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COUNTY COMMISSION: Sale of surplus property tabled

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

During the regular meeting of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday, Oct. 25, the commissioners considered a bid from a local resident for the purchase of approximately 68 acres of surplus property adjacent to the Madison County Recreation Complex. Most of the property, located off  of US Hwy. 90 West, is prone to flooding with only 18 acres of upland property. The commissioners had contacted nearby land owners to determine if any of them had any interest in purchasing the property. One land owner made an offer of $1,100 per acre. During discussion, another local resident expressed interest in the property for the purpose of duck hunting on the property. There is no set time table concerning the sale of the property. The commissioners decided to table the sale of the property and possibly consider other bids.

One citizen, Tom Moffses, addressed the commissioners regarding road paving on Flowers Rd. Paving on Flowers Rd. has been discussed on numerous occasions by the commissioners, however, other road projects have been a higher priority. Because of other road projects needing to be addressed in the county, and the way the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) prioritizes road projects, it is unlikely that Flowers Rd. will be paved in the near future. Moffses also addressed the commissioners about a “dry hydrant” on his property. Moffses told the commissioners that about a year ago he accidentally backed into the hydrant and broke a fitting. The Hamburg Volunteer Fire Dept. came out and checked and dug up the hydrant, telling Moffses they would be back with a part for the repair. According to Moffses, no one ever came back and the excavated hole and the pipe are still in place. Dry hydrants are no longer used, in favor of tanker trucks.

In other business, the commissioners approved a proclamation declaring Monday, Oct. 23 through Sunday, Oct. 29 as Florida City Government Week. The commissioners expressed appreciation to the Towns of Greenville, Pinetta and Lee, as well as the City of Madison for the cooperation enjoyed over the years. County Coordinator Brian Kauffman noted that this cooperation was very evident during the recent Hurricane Irma emergency. Kauffman expressed gratitude to each of the municipalities for their help during the storm. Greenville Mayor Calvin Malone introduced the new Greenville Town Manager Edward Walker Dean to the commissioners.

Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart addressed the commissioners and informed them that he was hopeful the Madison County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) will be able to finish the year with a balanced budget. Stewart had previously approached the commissioners about a $35,000 deficit due to increased operating expenses for the county jail. The commissioners approved funding the deficit from fiscally constraints funds. Stewart informed the commissioners he expected to be able to cover those costs without the need for the fiscally constraints funds. Stewart also informed the commissioners that citations were being issued in order to curb speeding on Hickory Grove Rd.

The commissioners discussed possible lease/purchase options for three ambulance chassis. The total cost of a four lease from the company, Leasing 2, out of Tampa would be $349,977.28. The total cost of a four lease from the company Government Capital would be $349,748.04. It was suggested the commissioners choose the lease from Leasing 2, even though it was approximately $200 more over the four year time span. The reasoning for this was that the County had done business with Leasing 2 in the past with positive results and Leasing 2 is a Florida-based company. County Attorney Tom Reeves advised the commissioners that even though it was generally required that the commissioners go with the lowest proposal, there were times when it was permissible to approve a slightly higher proposal. Having a previous working relationship with a company was an acceptable reason for accepting a slightly higher proposal. The commissioners voted to accept the proposal from Leasing 2.

There was discussion of a priority list for road improvement projects, the submittal of projects to the  FDOT and County-funded projects. The commissioners voted to submit three projects to the FDOT. The top priority was work on SW Morris Steen Rd., followed by SW St. Augustine and NE Juniper Dr. Proposed County-funded road projects included:

NE Almond Ave. - $765,000

NE Shrine Club Rd. - $100,000

NE Old Valdosta Rd/NE Olive St. - $212,500

SW Floridena Rd. - $510,000

SW Grand St. - $160,000

SW Cassleberry Way - $140,000

SW Bryan Earnhardt Rd. - $480,000

NE Clover Ave. - $637,500

The estimated total cost for these County-funded projects is $3,005,000. The commissioners decided to re-visit the County-funded road projects at a later date.

The commissioners discussed possible action on the lease/purchase of the Solid Waste Department's front loader. The lease with RDK was scheduled to end on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Jerome Wyche, Solid Waste Coordinator informed the commissioners of the sizable increase in truck prices and another lease would cost approximately $63,000 per year. The County could purchase the current truck for $196,295. Wyche told the commissioners the current truck has been a good truck. Questions were raised about warranty coverage and the possibility of buying an extended warranty to cover the truck. The commissioners voted to purchase the truck and authorize up to $5,000 for the purchase of an extended warranty to cover the entire truck.

Stephen Browning from the FDOT addressed the commissioners about the County's road work priorities. He had little to add to what had already been discussed. He did re-enforce the fact that safety was the number one concern for the department.

There was discussion regarding the Supervisor of Elections office and allowing the County's IT vendor to rent office space next to the Elections Office. There is a significant amount of work that would need to be done in the vacant space. It is estimated the construction costs would total $31,499. Supervisor of Elections Tommy Hardee said he would contact the IT vendor to see if they would be willing to pay for all or part of the construction costs. No vote was taken on the matter.

Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday, the commissioners voted to move the meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Wednesday, Nov. 29. The December meetings would take place as originally scheduled. The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Madison County Commissioners will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 9 a.m. The meeting will take place in the Board Meeting Room in the Courthouse Annex, located at 229 SW Pinckney St., in Madison.

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