The meeting began with an announcement by Chairman Doug Mangham stating that the application made by American Tower requesting a special exemption to construct a 195-foot-tall cell tower at the intersection of Gresham Road and U.S. Highway 19 has been withdrawn.
Following this notification, Blake Sharpton, of Jones, Cork and Miller LLP, a guest invited by Commissioner Don Collins to discuss the possibility of calling for another SPLOST referendum Nov. 2, 2010, briefly appeared.
“What we really want to know is can we or can we not have a vote on this (SPLOST) Nov. 2?” Collins asked.
Sharpton’s concise response was simply, “Yes.”
This led to much discussion on the subject.
“I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be prudent for our road department to go out and inspect these roads,” Commissioner Parrish Swift said. “They’re only going to get worse. Just about every paved road in the county is in need of repair. My intention would be strictly roads, if we did (request a SPLOST referendum).”
Commissioner Roosevelt Willis, who said he was going to play devil’s advocate, asked, “What if this SPLOST fails like the last one did?”
He stated he would like some reassurance that in the event voters reject another SPLOST referendum, funds will still be secured for road work.
Swift said he doesn’t believe Pike County voters would be likely to reject a SPLOST referendum with the funds designated for such an obvious need as road repairs, but Willis said, “Anything can happen.”
Meanwhile, Collins said he does not support such a referendum with revenue designated strictly for county road work.
“I don’t agree on having a SPLOST just for roads. I think there are many more needs in the county,” he said.
Commissioner Tommy Powers, who is supportive of the idea, disagreed with Swift’s contention that repairs to only paved roads should be funded in this manner, and said the county’s dirt roads should also be addressed.
Collins concluded the SPLOST discussion by calling for action to establish a committee to begin working toward a November referendum.
“I think it’s prudent that we appoint a SPLOST committee with Board of Commissioners representation,” he said. “You can’t begin too soon.”
At another point in the meeting, the tension between the Board of Commissioners and County Manager Steve Marro was apparent.
As Willis was giving his report, he questioned why the Pike County Sheriff’s Office is over budget by what he said is almost $250,000.
“If they run short, they should come back and ask for more money and I don’t recall our Sheriff’s Office ever coming here and asking for more money,” Willis said. “If we aren’t going to follow a budget, why even set one?”
During this time, Willis and Marro exchanged terse words in regard to Marro’s Jan. 27 interview for the position of county manager in Debary, Fla.
When Marro answered a question posed by Willis as to whether he is responsible for the county budget, Marrow said yes, per his contractual agreement, “I do the budget.”
Willis then said, “You might want to go back and check your interview,” alleging that Marro answered that question differently during his recorded interview.
Marro contended that, while he is currently responsible for the county budget, he has repeatedly recommended that a finance office is needed for this duty.
Willis, who clearly still disagreed with Marro’s response to his question, said, “I was just going by your interview.”
Marro replied, “Look at the tape.”
Willis said, “I did.”
Not backing down from his position, Marro said, “Read it (the transcript) again.”
Equally unwilling to back down, Willis said, “I did.”
After the conclusion of new business, commissioners retired for an executive session.
Upon emerging from their conference room and calling the meeting back to order, a special called meeting to be held at 4 p.m. today was announced.
According to the agenda for today’s meeting, “The Board desires an Executive Session for discussion or deliberation on the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a county officer or employee, Administrative Department, as provided in O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6).”
The BOC on Jan. 13 voted 4-0 not to renew Marro’s contract with Pike County. It will expire May 31.
According to Marro’s contract with Pike County, if he is terminated without cause, the county will be responsible for the payment of one year’s salary plus assorted benefits for a six-month period.