The Dade County Board of Commissioners discussed a new election building during the Thursday, Aug. 4 meeting.
Citizen Susan Talbott spoke during the citizen’s participation portion of the meeting and inquired about the building.
“To date, not all five commissioners’ voices have been heard on this subject. No formal votes have been made on a land purchase or a new construction,” Talbott.
Talbott referenced a prior comment County Executive Ted Rumley had made about a new election building, in which he used the word “we” when referring to the project, saying that it was misleading and premature.
“One Commissioner should not presume to present the position of other commissioners, especially on a public media platform,” Talbott said.
Talbott mentioned the historical depot, which was originally planned to house the election office. She asked why the building was able to accommodate the election office, but then after a fire damaged part of the building, it was supposedly not feasible anymore.
Talbott also spoke about the price of the project, noting that the land purchase would cost about $100,000, but no cost estimates have been provided for a building.
“I’d like to see the commissioners exercise a little more due diligence prior to calling a vote on this subject,” Talbott said.
“This is a big topic, and we are trying to be the best stewards of our taxpayers, and we are the taxpayers as well,” Mayor Alex Case said in response to Talbott. “In this time, the Secretary of State changed standards to the elections of the county, since the depot fire, which also changed a few things. The size was increased.”
“I would like to get an engineer to look at the depot, tell us what it would cost to repair it and add on to it,” Commissioner Melissa C. Bradford said.
Rumley noted that the County Commissioners and the City Commissioners have been discussing the project together, and they are open to further discussing options.
The Commissioners agreed to set a meeting with the City Commissioners, and Election Supervisor Lowanna Vaughan.
“I believe that we can bring all of our concerns together at one time and work it out to where we can make it happen,” Commissioner Phillip Hartline said.
Citizen John Huffman also spoke during the citizen’s participation portion of the meeting.
Huffman showed his support for another citizen, Jane Horton, who spoke during last week’s millage rate public hearing.
“She as a citizen was the most important person in the room, but somehow this commission all thought you were,” Huffman said. “As I have asked you repeatedly, what do you do for the paycheck the people pay you? Instead of laughing at Jane’s crazy notion that we don’t need government, that was your opportunity to give her some confidence that we need you in government.”
Huffman said that there are some county commissioners who have not been to neighborhoods in their district. He encouraged them to have district websites, newsletters and quarterly meetings and get-togethers.
Huffman also referenced a 2019 meeting in which Hartline had said that he did not represent Huffman.
“You come in here, bad mouthing me, when I had just come into office. You come in here for your five minutes of fame, so you can get on camera, and pat yourself on the back. You’ve been to all these people’s houses, and you’ve done all this work. We probably do more for people that’s been unsaid,” Hartline responded.
“You are all a team. When one person says it, you all say it,” Huffman said.
“When I say something, I stand behind it,” Hartline said. “There are 16,000 people in this county that I represent, not you.”
Huffman also mentioned that his rights as a represented citizen had been taken away from the Commission. The Commissioners asked Huffman what rights of his were being taken away.
“When I hear someone say, ‘I don’t represent you.’ That goes against what you said when you were running for office where you said I represent everybody,” Huffman responded.
“As a whole, not John Huffman,” Hartline said.
After Huffman left the meeting, Bradford said, “The people vote on these people up here to make the best decisions they can for the people of Dade County, and you talk to the people that you need to talk to make those decisions. It’s not an easy job.”
“I give everything to the county 24/7. I don’t set my pay; it’s set by the state of Georgia. If anyone’s got any questions about what I do, I’m wide open,” Rumley said.
Also, during the meeting Jamey Blevins, with Blevins Construction Management, gave an update on the historical courthouse construction. Blevins noted that the elevator shaft inspection was done last month.
“There are a few issues that we found. There is some sheet rock that is not finished. We have to get in there and patch that, there’s some holes. Now that we know what’s in there, we can start to figure out the costs of getting it repaired,” Blevins said.
The Commissioners discussed the need to appoint a member to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission Board, to fill the unexpired term of Peter Cervelli. They are still looking for someone to fill this position.
The Commissioners also appointed Seth Houts to the Industrial Development Authority.
The Commission approved a request for new fire hoses for the New Home Fire Department, to be purchased with SPLOST funds. The hoses were destroyed during a wildfire when the wind shifted. The total cost is $6,044.
The Commission also proclaimed Aug. 7 as Purple Heart Day.
Don Townsend presented the financial report. The general fund balance is $1,814,371 as of July 31. There is $990,406 in 2021 SPLOST funds. Expenses as of June 30 was $1,040,014.58. The fiscal year 2022 budget balance was $13,144,000. Revenues attained for the 2022 budget are at 103.42 percent, and expenses attained are at 97.57 percent. Townsend noted that the books will remain open through August for the 2022 budget.
The next Dade County Commission meeting will be on Sept. 1.