BOC approves Georgia Emergency Management Agency agreement

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By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer

The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved the 2013 Performance Partnership Agreement between the Georgia Emergency Management Agency-Homeland Security (GEMA-HS) and Morgan County.

The agreement states that GEMA-HS agrees to provide state and federal resources “in response to major emergencies and disasters,” as well as training and exercise programs for emergency personnel and “other critical situational information.”

Gwen Ruark, director of the Morgan County Emergency Management Agency (MCEMA), stated that the County will continue to be reimbursed for administrative expenses and assistance programs, “as long as [the County] continues to show improvement.”

Ruark also informed the board that the tornado shelter, which the BOC approved for purchase in July of 2013, will be ready to be delivered soon.

“The shelter is almost complete and sitting at the factory,” said Ruark, who also stated that the shelter should be in place by the beginning of the next tornado season.

Ruark also stated that Morgan County’s shelter will be the first community stand-alone shelter of its type in the state and that the eyes of other communities will be “looking to Morgan County” to see how well this shelter serves its function.

The shelter will be made up of two above-ground rooms, which measure 10 feet by 56 feet by 8 feet and contain perimeter and center seating for 213 people, and the location for the shelter will be in the “Wellington Park area just outside of the trailer park,” according to Ruark.

The total cost of the shelter, foundation, and equipment was quoted at more than $192,000 by Harbor Enterprises, LLC, whose bid the BOC accepted in June. However, the bid by Harbor Enterprises does not take the cost of installing the shelter and preparing it for use into consideration.

The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which went through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, offered a total of more than $315,000, with Morgan County only being responsible for 15 percent of that total: approximately $47,000. Morgan County’s share of the grant cost will be an in-kind match, and the county will utilize the labor required for the installation of the shelter for their share of the cost, stated Ruark.

The BOC also approved the Morgan County Budgetary Policies. According to Finance Director Lori Sayer, “not very much changed at all” with the drafting of these policies and the new policies “go along with the ordinance” that it replaces.

Sayer noted that one of the only changes takes away the finance director’s ability to approve appropriation transfers within a department and bestows that ability upon the county manager. However, Sayer noted that only the BOC has the authority to increase or decreased in departmental budgets, as before.

The BOC also approved the following items:

An amendment to the fiscal year 2014 budget in the amount of $5,600 to pay for new lightbars on eight refurbished cars for the Sheriff’s Office;

A rezoning request of two acres at 1542 Greensboro Highway from Agricultural Residential to General Commercial;

A text amendment to the Morgan County Zoning Ordinance, removing the conditional use requirement for church additions and modifications;

The NEGA Regional Commission Fiscal Year 2014 Aging Services Contract for more than $107,000;

Payables, including the General Fund in the amount of almost $772,000, SPLOST in the amount of more than $137,000, and Electronic Transfers from the General Fund in the amount of almost $524,000;

And 2013 Staff Reports as presented as the Aug. 20 work session.

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