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Library, janitorial contract funding approved
The Covington Branch of the Newton County Library System recieved $27,000 from the board of commissioners Tuesday.

The Newton County Library was granted $27,000 by the Board of Commissioners (BOC) Tuesday night after library officials said the system could lose its accreditation in the upcoming year.

The library, as a county appropriation, receives some of its funding from Newton County taxpayers. However, every county outside appropriation was reduced by 3 percent during the county’s budgeting process back in July.

After the county was told that the library could be in jeopardy by state agencies which do not allow for reductions in budgets, the BOC sent word to the library board of directors that it would help in compiling an appeal. Attorney Megan Martin said she would put together the appeal free of charge.

The library board, however, turned down the county’s proposal.

District 1 Commissioner John Douglas attempted to get the library system to its fiscal year 2016 funding level twice during Tuesday’s meeting. The first was, in what Chair Keith Ellis called “an old-time political” maneuver during discussion of a janitorial contract.

Douglas made a substitute motion on B&C Janitorial Cleaning Service’s contract approval, that the library’s $27,000 and the janitorial service’s $22,625.02 contracts be tied together. The motion failed.

Later in the meeting during a discussion of the library that was scheduled on Tuesday’s agenda, Douglas moved quickly to take $27,000 from the Public Works department’s budget and use it for the library. District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox seconded the motion.

Ellis, who oversees the public works department, disagreed with the commissioner’s decision to move money from Public Works.

“I always wanted to filibuster,” said Ellis in his last meeting in office. “If I had a Sunday Atlanta Journal, I would read the entire thing.”

District 2 Commissioner Lanier Sims then proposed waiting a month in order to evaluate the county’s budget six months into the fiscal year.

“I would like us to look at our finances and see where we are,” Sims said. District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz turned Sims suggestion into a substitute motion, but that motion failed 3-2, and the original motion to use the money from Public Works passed 3-2, with Schulz and Sims voting against.

Janitorial contract approved

A janitorial contract with B&C Janitorial Cleaning Service for $22,625.02 was approved by the BOC after a substitute motion to attach $27,000 in library funding failed.

The substitute motion, made by Douglas, was made, he said, in order to ensure the library received funding just as the janitorial issue and employee raises received funding.

However, that motion failed, and the county approved 3-1-1 with Douglas voting against and Henderson abstaining. Henderson said he abstained due to the fact that the county spent $200,000 on a recent forensic audit.

SPLOST amount amended

The BOC recently approved a list of projects for a possible 2017 Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST) totaling $51,010,560. However, that was under a split of 78 percent to the county and the rest divided among the Covington, Porterdale, Newborn, Mansfield and Oxford.

When the cities and county negotiated the SPLOST distribution in October, it settled on 72 percent of received money going to the county and the rest to the municipalities.

That correction was approved by the BOC Tuesday evening.

The county will receive $50,544,000 of expected SPLOST revenues. The difference in the county’s original estimation and its newly approved estimation will be taken from each project equally, according to County Manager Lloyd Kerr.

County employees to receive bonus

Newton County employees will receive a $200 “Christmas Bonus” in the month of December after a unanimous vote by the BOC Tuesday evening.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Tax Commissioner, Clerk of Courts, Public Works and other departments told Ellis it would move money around within its fiscal year 2017 budget to find the funds needed for the bonus.

An amendment to the budget was not needed to accommodate the bonuses of $200 for 585 employees.

“A thank you to all elected officials board and all departments contributed to help make our employees Christmas bonus’ a meaningful bonus,” Newton County Manager Lloyd Kerr said. “Since employees will not be receiving any kind of a raise this year, I think this means quite a bit to them.”

Warehouse to go on newly zoned piece of property

Back and forth over the zoning of a 22 ½ acre piece of property on Cook Road, Moore Street and East Metro Parkway took place Tuesday night.

The property was recently de-annexed by the city of Covington, and didn’t have a zoning or designation on the land use map attached to it. The Newton County Planning Commission recommended an M2 zoning.

Property owner Dale Miller said he intends on building warehouse space on the property. The motion to adopt the land use map passed unanimously and the adoption of zoning as M2 failed 3-2. John Douglas then made a motion to “reconsider the previous question”, which passed unanimously.

The motion to pass the zoning with staff recommendations then failed again as M2.

With confusion concerning the issue, Miller requested the motion be tabled.