Jim Britt, a consultant from Scarborough and Britt LLC answers a question from Commissioner Ewell Lyle, right, during Monday’s commission meeting.
ALBANY —Dougherty County commissioners at Monday's work session wrestled with giving $15,000 to a two-week program that benefits local children.
At the heart of the issue is whether the local version of the National Youth Sports Program, which has asked the Dougherty County Commission for funding to help pay for its two-week summer program for 500 area youth, devotes enough time to advocating against drug use to qualify for funding that is specifically earmarked by the courts for drug use prevention and education.
17 total votes.
Money from that fund currently goes to support a drug use education program at the jail that is implemented through the Albany Area Community Service Board with partial funding going to support the Dougherty County Sheriff's CHAMPS program, which administers an anti-drug campaign in the Dougherty County School System.
Some commissioners said Monday they're concerned that if if they let NYSP dip into the fund, that it will open the floodgates to requests from other organizations.
"We're not recommending dipping into it for any program other than the one at the jail," Commissioner Lamar Hudgins, who is also chairman of the county's finance committee, said.
Commissioner John Hayes said that the program is a successful one that is diverting young people away from behavior that will ultimately land them in jail.
"I understand that budgets are tight," Hayes said. "But I'm not terribly happy that we can't find a way to fund a terrific program. I think sometimes that, while we know we have a fiscal responsibility, we also have a social responsibility. ... I think this program will help keep kids out of jail."
Some suggested splitting the payment and somehow reaching a deal in which the county agrees to pay a portion of the requested amount if the city of Albany agrees to pay a portion.
"It just seems fair to me that they have to pay," Commissioner Jack Stone said.
Others on the commission said they would be unable to vote on the request until they learn more about the program and what services it provides.
"I don't know enough about this organization to vote intelligently on the matter," Commissioner Gloria Gaines said. "Quite honestly, I'd have to abstain until I got more information."
Col. John Ostrander, the administrator of the Dougherty County Jail, told the commission that the same fund that would provide the NYSP its money had been used to fund the CHAMPS program — whose mission is to turn kids away from gangs and drugs — but that funding for CHAMPS had been cut as the fund has ebbed.
"Once the fund is again healthy enough to draw from, and I don't believe it's there now, I would humbly ask that those staff positions that were cut from existing programs be considered," Ostrander said.
The commission is expected to vote on the matter at its May 20 regular meeting.
In other business, the commission heard:
- A recommendation from staff to purchase one 2013 Chevy Impala on state contract from Hardy Chevrolet in Dallas, Ga., for $20,109, for the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office. The car is one of two budgeted in the county's Capital Improvements Program budget for a total of $55,000;
- A recommendation from staff to accept a $34,812 bid from D&D Kitchens Center LLC in Albany for part of the renovation of the third floor of the Judicial Building. Three bids were received, with the highest bid being $45,764. Funding is budgeted from SPLOST V for $40,000;
- Staff's recommendation to buy one BAT Wing Mower for Dougherty County Public Works for $14,745 from Town & Country of Albany. Four of six bids received met specifications, with the highest bid being $18,712. Funding is budgeted under SPLOST VI in the amount of $17,000;
- Staff's recommendation to buy a tractor for public works from Town & Country for $44,600. Two out of the four bids met specifications, with the highest bid being $45,940. The tractor is budgeted in the CIP for $50,000;
- Staff's recommendation to accept a bid for the all-lines aggregate program from Property and Casualty Insurance Broker Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services of Itasca, Ill., for $992,765, which is a savings of $160,424 from the current broker.
- Staff's recommendation to declare two mosquito sprayers valued at $2,200 as surplus for the purpose of selling them to the Worth County Board of Commissioners.