Last updated: March 19. 2014 10:55AM - 1003 Views
By - mstrother@lagrangenews.com



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County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a budget amendment that included covering the cost of a vehicle that county officials said went unpaid by the previous sheriff’s administration.


Commissioners approved a budget amendment of $44,583 in revenue and expenses to the fiscal year 2013 budget. The amendment was due to two un-budgeted items that caused overages in expenses.


One expense was a sheriff’s vehicle that was wrecked in mid-2012 and replaced in December that year, but County Clerk/Finance Officer Scott Turk said the replacement vehicle had been purchased without a purchase order submitted to the county. Current Sheriff James Woodruff and county officials said they were unaware that the vehicle had not been paid for until Woodruff approached the dealership in July 2013 to get another vehicle.


Woodruff came before Commissioners in July about the outstanding balance. Commission agreed to pay the outstanding cost of the vehicle contingent on reimbursement from the sheriff’s office.


County Commissioner Tripp Foster said that the sheriff’s office had received an insurance reimbursement for the wrecked vehicle in December 2012. The reimbursement was placed into drug seizure funds, which were depleted before Woodruff took office in January 2013.


“When we received insurance payment at or about August of 2012, that insurance money was deposited – that was taxpayer money that paid for insurance on these vehicles – that was deposited into the drug funds and then subsequently given away,” Foster said. “I want the record to reflect that.”


That cost, $25,624, will be offset with revenue generated from county jail inmates buying phone cards.


The second cost was due to the county paying the salary for the former airport director, who resigned last year. That has since been reimbursed by the Airport Authority, making a balanced $18,959.


In another matter, Commissioners also voted on a clarification of its previous vote for Sunday alcohol sales. There are two questions to appear on the ballot: whether to allow businesses to serve alcohol for on-site consumption and whether to allow package sales.


The Commission voted on two resolutions calling for referendums on Tuesday, one for each of the ballot questions. The ballot vote should appear in the May primary and applies to businesses in the unincorporated area. Voters in the cities of LaGrange, West Point and Hogansville already approved measures allowing sales and service in those incorporated areas.


Commissioners approved a vendor for health insurance broker service. It’s been six years since the county has changed insurance brokers, Tentler said, and staff sent out requests for quotes and received 10 responses.


Staff on Thursday interviewed representatives from five companies, and staff spent most of Friday and Monday following up on proposals before coming to the conclusion of recommending local company Houze and Associates, County Manager Tod Tentler said.


“It’s probably one of the most difficult decisions that the staff and me have ever had to make,” Tentler said.


He estimated using the broker service should save the county $150,000 to $250,000 annually on insurance costs.

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