Dawson County EMS Director Billy Thurmond asked the board of commissioners Thursday for nearly $1 million to pay for debris clean up after a two-day ice storm in February.
According to Thurmond, the company responsible for removing limbs from county right aways was Texas based Ceres Environmental Services. Its invoice totaled $927,163.49.
"The winter storm of February 15-17 left downed trees and debris scattered throughout our county basically over the entire 279-mile roadway structure that we have," Thurmond explained. "It also left hazardous broken limbs high up in trees that could fall at any time. All of this created a serious safety issue for our citizens. These safety issues obligated us as a county to rectify this problem. Initially, we worked on this cleanup internally. On April the 20th, as you know, we were 1 of 16 counties that received a federal declaration [as a disaster area]. We hired Ceres Environmental Systems, Inc. to help us finish clearing our roadways."
This includes 49,645 cubic yards of debris that was picked up and taken to the transfer station, management at the collection site, 2,976 hazardous limbs greater than 2" in diameter that were cut and removed and the grinding of all debris, according to Thurmond.
The bill was broken down to $391,702.60 for vegetative collection, $348,192.00 for tree operations, $117,765.26 for grinding and $69,503.63 for management and reduction.
As a federal disaster area, Dawson County is entitled to reimbursement from FEMA and GEMA but must show proof of payment first, according to Thurmond. Reimbursement is expected to be 87 percent (approximately $806,632.24) leaving the county to pay $115,895.44.
County Manager Cindy Campbell explained additional costs in an email after the meeting.
"The other costs include salaries and benefits for Dawson County employees who worked on the debris clean up, or use of County equipment during the clean up," Campbell wrote."These costs were budgeted and paid from the Countys general fund; however, we are filing claims with FEMA/GEMA for partial reimbursement of these costs. These costs are not included in the CERES invoice. The $115,895.44 is the amount of Dawson Countys match (12.5%) related to the CERES invoice once funding is received from FEMA (75%) and GEMA (12.5%). The $64,000 is the amount of grant contingencies currently in the budget for Dawson Countys match, and we are waiting on approval from the board of commissioners for the remaining amount from either other contingencies or fund balance."
Free mulch is available to Dawson County residents at the transfer station.
Separately, Thurmond asked for approval to apply for a Georgia Association of EMA grant. If the First Responder/EMT-B Course grant is awarded, the money would be used to fund a course in Dawson County. No matching funds are required. The total amount will depend upon the number of enrollees, which are expected to be mostly volunteers.
COUNTY EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION
In other county business, Director of Administration David McKee presented the commissioners with a 2015 employee compensation proposal which begins to change the countys salary structure to 'pay for performance'.
"Dawson County does not currently have a procedure in place to control compensation increases," McKee said. "In the past, the board has elected to do a number of different things from one time pay increases to an across the board percentage increase. The pay for performance procedure would allow department heads to compensate their highest performing employees."
The disbursement would be discretionary and left up to department heads.
"I am proposing that we distribute those monies out to the department heads and allow department heads -- based on a few criteria -- to distribute that to their staff as they see fit."
The suggested criteria for distribution would involve three factors: the employee must have an average score of a '3' on their most recent (within the past 12 months) performance evaluation, the individual must be employed longer than six months, and that employees below target salary will be compensated before those above target.
"We have pulled senior staff out of their respective departments and put them under administration so that money would be allocated from the county manager," McKee said. "The county manager will have the authority to compensate department heads."
Increases will be retroactive from Jan. 1. Sheriffs office employees are compensated under a separate budget.
Dawson County Attorney Joey Homans reported that payment was received from the Comfort Inn litigation.
The last pending tax appeal is scheduled to be tried Aug.10 in Superior Court, if the settlement proposals are not accepted by Aug. 3. Lastly, matters pertaining to letters of support and agreements for the roundabouts will continue between Chairman Mike Berg and GDOT.
August 6 at 6 p.m. is the next board of commissioners meeting, 2nd floor, Dawson County Government Center, 25 Justice Way.