The condition of the hospital and services shared by the city and county were the major topics discussed at the quarterly meeting of the Candler County Commissioners, the City of Metter and the Candler County Board of Education. Each agency had multiple representatives at Bevricks on Monday, Aug. 15, for an informal roundtable concerning issues that are facing the community and the role each agency plays.

 City Councilman Ed Boyd was the first to bring attention to the “500-lb. gorilla in the room,” the hospital. Boyd commented the hospital is putting a strain on the county which is affecting their budget “and that affects everyone,” he said.

 Commission Chair Glyn Thrift briefly updated the group on the hospital debt and as of today they are current with their bank obligations, he said. He agreed that there is hope with the passage of a 2-mill tax increase designated to debt reduction for the hospital which should free up money for operating expenses.

 Thrift continued on the topic of shared services, stating the county is trying to get someone from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia to attend a meeting to help commissioners better understand shared services.

 The city and county share services through several agencies but fire protection, animal control, and jail services are the ones most discussed.

 There is a Service Delivery Strategy, a legal agreement, that is negotiated every 10 years and the Metter-Candler agreement is up for renewal in 2018.

 This year, the city has questioned if it should pay for housing of inmates. According to thseShared Services Agreement of April 2008, the city has been paying the county $40,000 annually to house the inmates. However, the city claims those expenditures should be covered under the city tapayers’ portion of county taxes. The county has taken exception to that, pointing out that the annual payment is in the current agreement and the city should honor it. The city does not have the $40,000 in its FY2016-2017 budget at present.

 Mandi Cody, newly hired city manager informed the group the city has hired Brown Pelican Consulting LLC to assist with shared services negotiations.

 Both governments agreed that they did not want to wait until 2018 to renegotiate the shared services agreement.

 Candler County Superintendent of Schools Bubba Longgrear reported, “There’s a lot of great things going on the school system and the main reasons is that this community supports and values public education.”

 Among the things mentioned was Move on When Ready.

 “Students, as they progress through high school, can take accelerated classes and start college classes even earlier,” he said. “Right now at middle school, students can take high school math and pre-AP physical science which allows them to accelerate even more. This year at MHS, a student can earn up to 6 college credits on campus without ever leaving. Some are still leaving, but six classes are on campus at no additional cost.”

 “Also, the school system is partnering with the Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro for a long range goal of having a musical, theatrical performance that includes our students and community members.

 “Our long term goal is a community event that would enhance the quality of life here,” stated Longgrear.

 Commissioner Brad Jones followed up on a new digital communications system that he and fellow Commissioner Donnie Wells have been investigating that would greatly enhance communication and link all county agencies.

 Jones also asked if the city could expedite the permits for two new county tee ball fields at the recreational facilities.  Mayor Billy Trapnell agreed that was something that could be looked into.

 The group adjourned with plans for the next meeting to be held in October.

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