Decatur County Administrator Gary Breedlove has made no secret of the fact that he does not agree with the outcome of the service delivery negotiations.
Breedlove invited county department heads and constitutional officers to an impromptu presentation he made in commissioners’ meeting room at 6 p.m. on March 24, an hour before commissioners’ regular meeting. While we were not present, Breedlove said the purpose of the meeting was to summarize the potential impact of the service delivery agreement. He said he held the meeting because in his opinion, local media had not covered the millage rate impact and county employees needed to know.
The document he gave out to county employees who attended the session is attached below. (You will notice Breedlove estimates a potential for 4.7-millage increase for taxpayers in unincorporated Decatur County.)
Breedlove had initially planned to give a shorter version of the same presentation at county commissioners’ regular meeting. However, County Commissioner Butch Mosely made a motion to strike that item from the regular meeting’s agenda. In Mosely’s view, an additional presentation would only have the impact of stirring up the emotions of Decatur County Prison employees who had attended Tuesday’s meetings asking questions of why their department’s budget was under scrutiny.
Mosely had also proposed hiring an accountant to audit DCCI’s budget to identify potential cost savings; however, under pressure from the DCCI employees who spoke out, Mosely amended the motion to hire an accountant to audit all of the county departments’ budgets. (Both of Mosely’s motions were approved 5-1 by other commissioners; Dennis Brinson voted no and later made remarks that he had no personal intention of seeing the county prison closed down.)
“The big question mark is that by agreeing to put the county prison in an enterprise fund — that’s a loser,” Breedlove said in a telephone interview with sowegalive.com on Wednesday March 25. “The prison is not set up to make money, an enterprise fund is. The fallout is if you can’t balance that out, expenditure and revenue, then that’s an additional millage that you’ll have to do against the unincorporated area.”
Warden Elijah McCoy was among the many DCCI employees present at commissioners’ meeting on March 24. McCoy told us he “welcomes any audit” of the county prison’s budget, but said he thought it was only fair to give the same attention to other departments. McCoy showed commissioners numbers that in his view, indicated that the labor that county inmates do for local governments and surrounding counties is significantly greater than the amount of money the county actually collects for providing that service.
During the phone interview on Wednesday, Breedlove said he was aware that some county commissioners didn’t like him making critical comments about the service delivery agreement after it had been signed off on by the City Council and Board of Commissioners.
“When people widespread become aware of the millage numbers, they’re going to say, ‘Why didn’t someone tell us?’ I told my staff and directors across the board.”
“I’m not trying to stir up anything – it’s fact…people can say I’m trying to show ‘doom and gloom’–I’m just showing numbers.”
At this point in our conversation, Administrator Breedlove asked me to treat his following comments as “background” for a story, which I agreed to. However, in summary he said he took issue with certain parts of the service delivery agreement he viewed as “favorable” to the City of Bainbridge, financially speaking.
At county commissioners’ meeting to approve the service delivery agreement, The Bainbridge Post-Searchlight quoted Breedlove as making the following comment:
“For two days I have had serious and significant objections to some of the aspects of the agreement,” Breedlove said. “I stand by those objections, and I have no further comment.”
It should be noted other county commissioners made remarks indicating they were troubled by some of the agreement’s language, despite approving it 5-1. We recommend you read The Post-Searchlight’s article covering the commissioners approving the SDS agreement (Sowegalive.com was at the City Council’s meeting going on at the same time).
Commissioner George Anderson voted against the SDS agreement, saying he was concerned some people within his commission district would not be able to afford the millage increases. Commissioner Pete Stephens said the agreement was not easily reached and compared voting yes on it to “swallowing a pill.” Chairman Dennis Brinson said that at times during the mediation, county officials felt “backed into a corner” and were trusting that the numbers involved in the agreement would eventually work out in the county’s favor.
The SDS agreement is to be submitted to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs on April 1.
Please See Related Story: Bainbridge, Decatur County leaders comment on service delivery agreement that could raise taxes