Commissioners approve solar mou

Published 3:03 pm Thursday, June 20, 2024

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The Sumter County Board of Commissioners met on the 18th of June. Chair David Baldwin welcomed Dr. Michelle Johnston, the new president of Georgia Southwestern.

Johnston addressed the Board. “I appreciate the opportunity to be here this evening at your commission meeting.” She noted the warm welcome she had received. “We are very excited to be part of the broader community here and to serve Georgia Southwestern, which is an incredibly important institution in our state in this region, and we are ready to work together with the community, businesses, nonprofits, our local governments, and really work together to move the community and the university forward. So thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to be here tonight, but also to just be a part of this community.”

During recognitions, Jacob J. Allen, Battalion Chief in the Fire Department, was recognized for three years of service. Nancy E. Jimenez, Circuit Wide Clerk in Juvenile Court, was recognized for five years of service. Carlos P. Larry, Firefighter, was recognized for seven years of service. Donald L. Starnes Jr., Battalion Chief in the Fire Department, was recognized for seven years of service. Eric K. Gary, Sergeant in the Sherriff’s Department, was recognized for 10 years of service, and Bonnie Devane-Moore, records specialist with the Correctional Institute, was recognized for 25 years of service.

County Administrator Doug Eaves presented information on the budget: “The total budget for Sumter County $38,397,466. The general fund part of that is $23,552,261.40. All funds are balanced as per State law requirements. The budget was advertised as available for public inspection.” Eaves concluded: “It meets all State and local requirements.”

Chair David Baldwin entertained a motion to adopt the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1rst 2024 and ending June the 30th 2025. Commissioner Jessie Smith made a motion toadopt the budget, seconded by Commissioner Mark Waddell, passing unopposed.

Baldwin then entertained a motion to approve the revised memorandum of understanding with Americus Solar.

County attorney Hayden Hooks addressed the board. “Mr. Eaves had raised concerns if the project was sold to MEAG or another organization that didn’t have to pay taxes whether the pilot obligations would continue.” She addressed how the current changes clarify whether the payment in lieu of taxes would still be required if the project was transferred to a non-profit. “And so we have added a sentence to clarify that if they were to transfer, any organization that they transfer would be subject to the pilot obligations.”

Smith made a motion to accept the changes, which was seconded by Waddell, passing unopposed.

Next the Board discussed the Plumb communication device, which would allow the emergency operations center or other critical government organizations to have internet in the event that local towers were destroyed. Eaves mentioned that the case was capable of reaching out 42 miles to the nearest tower. He did clarify: “this would not facilitate communications throughout the County.” However, he did mentioned that it could provide connection to state agencies in the event of an emergency. “It will facilitate keeping the EOC in contact with state organization, state groups state, emergency aid organizations that we would need to come down and help us at this point in time.”

Fire Chief Harmon outlined two options: “The Scout, it only comes with two providers, and the Venture comes with four providers.” Harmon recommended the Venture, option one.

Waddell made a motion to approve option one, Reid seconded the motion. Smith voted against, and the motion passed.

Public works director Tim Estes addressed the Board. “All of our parks right now have a policy of being open from sunup to sundown. That doesn’t mean we lock the parks, we just have signage up that says park hours are sunup to sundown. We had two elderly citizens that were walking very early in the morning.” He mentioned that police officers had responded to Boone Park in response. “The two citizens were not happy with how they were treated. And Commissioner Smith and I had a discussion about possibly taking those signs down or coming up with something so that those ladies could do it because they like to do that on a regular basis.”

He mentioned that he had mixed feelings. “I kind of got mixed feelings because the sunup to sundown has a reason for that, because that at least gives law enforcement, you know, a reason to go in the park if they see somebody during those times.”

Baldwin responded: “My personal preference would be to remove the signs and if there’s no problem there’s no problem.”