County reconfigures development board
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@cherokeetribune.com
October 04, 2012 01:08 AM | 1887 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Following a lengthy debate on Tuesday night, members of the Cherokee County Board of Commission agreed to place three new members on the county-created authority that was responsible for financing a failed recycling operation.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to reconfigure the Resource Recovery Development Authority board with a total of five members appointed by the commission by July 1. Three of the members are to be non-elected officials.

In the meantime, the board will appoint the new members initially as advisory members in January or when the county has a new lease agreement for a new operator on the site occupied by Ball Ground Recycling, whichever happens first.

Commissioners went back and forth in discussion about how many new members should be appointed, and whether or not they should become members of the RRDA prior to a decision on the lease agreement.

In November 2006, the county created the RRDA — which is composed of the five commissioners — and issued $18.2 million in revenue bonds to relocate Jimmy Bobo’s Ball Ground Recycling from its former location on Blalock Road near Holly Springs to its site on Highway 5 just south of Ball Ground.

Bobo was under a lease agreement with the authority to pay $100,000 a month over 30 years in bond payments up to the amount borrowed to purchase land and equipment for the operation, which the authority owns under the agreement. Last year, commissioners learned from the Bank of New York that Bobo had not been making regular payments into an escrow account.

In May, Ball Ground Recycling filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Bobo was forced to vacate the property. The Blalock Road site is now the site of the Badger Creek Soccer Park, which is county-owned and operated by the Cherokee Soccer Association under an agreement with the county.

The county is now in the process of recouping the millions of dollars it has lost in the deal, while a grand jury is continuing to investigate the matter.

Commissioner Jim Hubbard — whose term on the board, along with that of Commissioner Karen Bosch, will end in January — said that he thought Chairman Buzz Ahrens and Commissioner Harry Johnston should remain on the RRDA.

“He has followed this from day one,” Hubbard said of Johnston.

Ahrens — who came up with the new RRDA member plan — suggested that the commission find the three non-elected authority members as soon as possible so that they can form an advisory committee to be part of the process of finding a new operator.

“No. 1 (so) they’re assisting during this contract period, No. 2 they’re on their learning curve and No. 3 they’re ready to step in on Jan. 1,” he said.

During public comments, county resident Tom Ware said the four post commissioners should remain on the RRDA and three new members should come aboard. Elected officials have a responsibility to see their decision through, he said.

“I believe that as elected officials by the voters of this county, that when something as important as this board is, that the elected officials should stay involved,” said Ware, the only member of the public to speak.

The Cherokee Board of Commissioners also:

* Voted 5-0 to set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Oct. 16 at Cherokee Hall to hear public comments about the FY 2013 budget. A copy of the budget will be available on the county’s website on Wednesday.

* Approved 5-0 a $31,300 per year, two-year agreement for the cost sharing partnership to facilitate the implementation of planned conservation practices between the county and Canton Field Office of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

* Approved 5-0 a contract based on commission with the most responsive bidder, Consolidated Telecom of Dallas, Texas, for telephone service and equipment for use by the inmates of Cherokee County Adult Detention Center.

* Approved 5-0 a contract based on commission with the most responsive bidder, A&S Canteen of Stockbridge for the commissary services and equipment for use by the inmates of the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center.

* Voted 5-0 to renew a contract with Trinity Services Group Inc. of Oldsmar, Fla., for food service to the inmates and staff of the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center. Trinity agreed to provide the same level of service for the next year for a 2 cent per meal increase, totaling 82 cents. An average of 13,300 meals are served per week. The increase will not result in the need for an increase in the sheriff’s budget, according to the county.

* Voted 5-0 to renew a contract with Correct Health of Stockbridge for medical services to the inmates of the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center in the amount of $1,756,889. The cost includes an increase requested of $10,000 over last year’s contract to cover rising medical expenses but will not result in an increase in the budget, according to the county.

* Approved 4-0 a contract from sole bidder, Georgia Power, to supply permanent power to the Cherokee County Aquatic Center under construction and authorize the county manager to execute a power easement for underground power. The estimated annual cost in year one is $54,447, $141,493 in year two and $176,101 in years three to five. Commissioner Harry Johnston abstained from voting due to a possible employment conflict of interest.

* Learned that the Aquatic Center project is $467,000 under budget and could open as soon as next May.

* Accepted by a 5-0 vote of all public rights-of-way, roadways and appurtenant draining structures in the Woodmont Subdivision Units 11A, 11B and the Grove.

* Accepted by a 5-0 vote of all public rights-of-ways and appurtenant drainage structures in the Centennial Lakes Subdivision – Pod 1; and

* Authorized by a 5-0 vote to surplus and dispose of old Fire-ES fire ladders and inoperable air cylinders through an aluminum recycling center.
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