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Legal costs, landfill committee, raises dominate BOC meeting
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Tuesday's Board of Commissioners meeting was dominated by spirited discussions of the county's legal spending, the citizen landfill committee and employee raises.

Commissioner Nancy Schulz voted against approving the financial report after voicing frustration with the board's lack of planning regarding legal costs, which were supposed to be discussed at a retreat in January that was cancelled.

"We just seem to be stuck in this legal services [issue]," she said, adding that the county spends between $80,000 to $90,000 a month on legal services. "What's the plan since...the slope keeps going in the same direction. We don't seem to be making any changes."

She went on to point out that the county was already $102,000 over the legal budget for the solid waste fund due to ongoing negotiations over the landfill.

County Attorney Tommy Craig replied that he had been working on a proposed settlement over the landfill since October 2013, when he was authorized by the board to explore options following the county's defeat at the Georgia Supreme Court.

"I put a lot of work into this proposal," Craig said. He also said that payments to his firm had gone down in the first quarter of the current year.

Schulz insisted it was a matter of "dollars and cents," asking "Where is the money coming from for this?"

Commissioner Lanier Sims chimed in to remind the board that Craig carried out work assigned to him.

"The problem, in my opinion, comes down to the five plus the chairman that sits up here," he said. "We need to seriously sit down and talk about the plan."

The board then moved on to other issues, including approving a proposal from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government to facilitate the citizen landfill committee meetings for $12,500. The first meeting on Wednesday, April 22, will not be facilitated.

The commissioners revisited the committee's scope of work, with Commissioner J.C. Henderson voicing particular concern for the fate of the recycling centers. He reiterated his readiness to cast an immediate 'no' vote on the landfill proposal.

The board eventually agreed that the citizen committee should prioritize weighing the current proposed settlement before moving on to a more comprehensive review of the county's solid waste management.

The board wrapped up the meeting with a discussion of raises for county employees not covered by the recent salary increases granted to the Sheriff's Office and Fire Department. County Manager Tom Garrett recommended a market survey to determine how best to impliment raises, which, he pointed out, are necessary if the county is to retain talented employees.

You can watch the meeting here or see more in this Sunday's edition of The News