by: Summer Kelley
As the state, and in fact the entire country, attempts to determine the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dade County is working on the final draft of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget.
Commissioner Robert Goff reported SPLOST collections for May of $200,082. While the collections remain over $200,000, Goff reminded everyone the numbers run two months behind, so the money was actually collected in March.
“Probably next month will tell us what, if anything, this COVID thing did,” Goff said.
Goff said fuel tax would probably be down due to the lower cost of fuel and shelter in place order which reduced traffic.
The county’s proposed FY 2021 budget process is winding down with a public hearing set for June 11, 2020 at 5 p.m. at the County Administration building in the county commission meeting room.
“Everyone involved in this budget, I’ve made it a point they be here,” County Executive Ted Rumley said.
A notice of a Special Called Meeting to accept the FY 2021 budget will be published as well. The Special Called Meeting will be held on June 18, 2020 at 5 p.m. in the County Administration Building.
Further discussion of SPLOST, which is up for renewal by voters, was led by Rumley. Rumley and the commission have been sharing projects SPLOST has been used to pay for in the county. Finished recent SPLOST projects for the county include the jail fence, a van for 4-H, new Sheriff vehicles, and tornadoes and storm cleanup and repairs.
E-911/Dade Emergency Management Director Alex Case shared progress on one the county’s larger SPLOST projects – updating computers, servers, software and equipment due to the phasing out of Windows 7. Case said he first spoke to the commission about the problem back in the fall. After January 14, Windows 7 would be unsupported. The county had 80 workstations to change over, which have now all been switched to the newer operating system. Case said they had been updating and replacing things as money was available in SPLOST. Case also spoke about the fact that they have been trying to work between COVID, the storm, and the other things going on. The biggest parts of the project are still left and include the Vigilon camera system for the court building and jail where the server is from 2008 and at ten end of its life; the mytel phone system used by the county which the server is past its life as well as the software; and part of a system used in dispatch that they are currently repairing using parts of an old system from Walker County.
Commissioner Phillip Hartline asked Case if the slow progress of the updating the county’s IT system, computers and equipment was due to a lack of flow of money or lack of time.
Case said that the people working on the system were wearing multiple hats.
Hartline said he understands they are wearing multiple hats and that he was not saying Case and the others were not working and not doing all they can do, he just wanted to know if they needed more help. Hartline shared concerns that if the system goes completely out, before everything is updated, they will have nothing.
Case explained that they had gone through four weeks straight of training on one fix to the system. Everything is done, Case said, but the bigger items.
Hartline suggested sub-contractors, but Case said they have a couple of contractors they work with and cost of using them is an issue as well as being able to trust someone in the system.
“We are trying the best we can,” Case said. “We are doing a lot in house as we can. I would love to have some more help, but it will cost us.”
Dade County Library Director Marshana Sharp encouraged people to fill out their Census forms. The census is online and ten questions only. Sharp said people can come to the library and fill it out. Sharp and others are concerned because Dade is showing only 48.8% of the residents in the county have responded to the census compared to the state’s more than 60% average. It is against the law for the census to share any personal information, they just need the numbers. Those numbers help with things like roads, grants, money for the library, school system, and public transportation. The numbers also help new businesses determine if there is a big enough work force or enough customers. The last census Dade had over 16,000 people and right now Dade is showing 7,000. The library is open Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ten a.m. to 11 a.m. is for the most vulnerable in the population.
Rumley reported the EPD is back in Dade, this time they are working with federal authorities on issues at The Preserve in Rising Fawn. The EPD is also working with an issue on Sand Mountain.
Commissioners approved a proclamation declaring June 21 – 27 National Lightning Awareness Week; appointed Darlene Rogers to the Library Board; the re-appointment of Sarah Moore to the Historical Preservation Society; the re-appointment of Sandra Pullen to the DFACS Board; and the purchase of a grasshopper lawnmower for $17,185.78 if the current mower used by Parks and Rec stops working.
Hartline asked for a change in Public Input suggesting that a Public Input section be added to the end of the Work Session in order to allow no more than five people time to address any issue that will be up for approval during the regular meeting. Public Input during the regular meeting will remain as is to allow anyone to address the commission regarding anything on or off the agenda. The commission will be looking at other counties for similar policies and get the changes drawn up.
The full work session can be viewed above and the meeting viewed below.