The Board of Commissioners postponed voting on three holiday furloughs until the next BOC meeting on Aug. 10.
Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon said this was to give the constitutional officers another chance to look at their budgets to see if they could find an additional amount to reduce instead of cutting the pay for all three holidays.
The holidays the county is examining are Labor Day (Sept. 6), the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), and the observed Christmas holiday (Dec. 27). This would reportedly save the county about $300,000.
Commissioner JaNice Van Ness asked to implement at least the Labor Day furlough and voted against deferring until Aug. 10.
"I just think we’re playing a yo-yo game with the employees of Rockdale County," she said. "The fact is, we have a $4 million shortfall, and we don’t have a way to make up millions of dollars unless we put it on the backs of homeowners in Rockdale County. I feel like we should at least move forward with the Labor Day holiday furlough day."
The deferment was passed 2-1.
The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office will cut an equivalent amount of funds — about $135,000 — from their budget instead of mandating the unpaid holidays. The sheriff's office employs about 300 people, which makes up about half the county employees.
In other county business:
Code Red Alert system
The Sheriff's Office will implement an emergency notification system that would call and leave a message to all landlines in potentially affected areas for possible disasters and emergencies. Cell phones, emails and texts could also be sent out to those who sign up to receive the notifications.
The system, run by Emergency Services Communications, Inc., would cost about $25,000 per year. The RCSO is applying for grants to pay for the service, and the agreement reportedly includes a clause that would allow the county to end the service if no grants are received. Sherriff Jeff Wigington said the system is reportedly used by about a fifth of the counties in Georgia, and set up of the system would take about one week.
The RCSO will send out a press release on how to opt into the system when the system is set up, said Wigington.
Rockdale Water Resources will be fined about $46,000 by the state's Environmental Protection Division for sewage spills earlier in the year and will have to follow about six procedural points or changes.
The Quigg sewage treatment plant reportedly had about 28 major spills, including the Pratt-Visy UASB pretreatment unit that failed from January to March this year, with about 10 of those violating permits.
The cost of the fine will be reportedly shared with contracted operator ESG, and it is unknown how much or whether Pratt would be sharing in the fine cost. The $500,000 cost of fixing the pretreatment unit was shared by ESG and Pratt.
During that time while the UASB pretreatment unit was failing, full-strength industrial discharge was going directly into the Quigg wastewater treatment plant, which was able to handle the load at first, said RWR Director Dwight Wicks. After about two weeks, the plant became overloaded.
The plant discharged water that had biological oxygen demand levels and ammonium-nitrate levels higher than allowed into the Yellow River, near Ga. Highway 138, for a total of 26 days.
The same UASB unit had failed in 2002, even though it was fairly new at the time, and also received a fine from EPD. The contract operator at the time was OMI. The cost to fix the unit then was more than $1 million.
Fire and Rescue Chief officially appointed
Cedric Scott was approved and appointed as the head of the Fire and Rescue department, which oversees the fire division and the 911 communications center. Scott had been the Fire Chief of the fire division under the Emergency Services Department, which was formed in 2009 out of the fire department, 911 center, animal control and community service. The ESD was disbanded and reorganized earlier this year as part of budget cutting measures.
"I never dreamed I would reach this point in my life and be place in charge of such an important piece of public safety," said Scott. "I pledge to you in this community we will work very hard to meet and to exceed customer expectations."
He quoted John Quincy Adams on leadership: "If your actions inspire others to dream more, to learn more, to do more and to become more, you are a leader."
"I plan to work toward that, to inspire this community," said Scott.