Board of County Commissioners

Gadsden County, Florida

Budget Public Hearing

September 9, 2021

6:00 p.m.


Present:               Brenda Holt, Chair, District 4

                                Dr. Anthony “Dr. V” Viegbesie, Vice Chair, District 2

                                Eric Hinson, District 1

                                Kimblin NeSmith, District 3

                                Ronterious “Ron” Green, District 5

                                Edward J. Dixon, County Administrator

                                Clayton Knowles, County Attorney

                                Marcella Blocker, Deputy Clerk

                                Sara Green, Deputy Clerk



 Chair calls meeting to order at 6:03PM and


  County Administrator Dixon asks for a 10 minute recess to print copies of the agenda. 


Vice Chair Viegbesie made the motion, Commissioner Green seconded. Motion passes 5-0.


  Meeting resumes at 6:17PM. 


  No amendments. Vice Chair Viegbesie motions to approve agenda, Commissioner NeSmith seconds. Agenda passes.




Due to COVID-19 and the efforts of Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners to continue the practice of social distancing, Commissioners want to continue to hear from citizens under the Citizens Requesting to be Heard section of the agenda.


If citizens have any questions, comments or concerns, please email and anticipate receiving a response within 48 hours.


  Commissioner Green read the above. 




Budget Overview and Discussion (Edward J. Dixon, County Administrator)

  Mr. Dixon came before the Board to introduce the item.

   Could not find an approved budget in December, they could find a recommended. Approved budget was found in February, was on thumb drive in someone’s pocket. The budget he thought his office was operating by was not the actual budget. One problem was $400,000 for radio system that wasn’t actually budgeted. $2.2 million in account receivable that were expensed but were actually bad debt. “We were spending that money when it wasn’t really revenue.” Had to scrap everything to start a new budget because of so many holes and issues. Didn’t end up trusting the budget they were looking at. “Things were not adding up.” Only action to take was to stop and start again. Lot of expenses were in salaries which is money that is not easy to get back.



  “We will have a balanced budget; it will come with some sacrifice.” Line item of $2.2million actually brings in $40,000.

  Last year was $51.7mill. 2022 expect $53.2mill in revenue. $1.4 million increase.

  All constitutional officers did what we asked, simplified things. Cooperation is appreciated. CARES and American Rescue have helped immensely. Provided cash that would have otherwise had to have been paid for.

  Look for certain positions have been split to cover 2 or 3 positions/divisions/line items; gotten significant grant money; overall expenditures have been kept where they could be. Healthcare rises, CPI’s included. CHP went up 4%, have to look at. County is at 144% of CHP rate, employees are sicker. CHP makes profit at 94%. Sheriff pulling out will only drive up rates because of smaller pool. $800 a month per person.

  Holt- co ad, chair, chp, and sheriff met because of drastic CHP number. $700k increase, suggested joining a gym. Have to make changes to drive number down because budget is due October 1. Why she suggested a budget director, at least 2 in the department.

  Green- what solutions have you thought of in reference to having a budget we can trust?

  Dixon- we’re recruiting and looking for people, asking for them to apply. Haven’t gotten right people in terms of background and ability. That their integrity isn’t in question. We are dealing with integrity issues.

    Green- what are our options for health insurance, have we started comparing?

  Dixon-CHP is an HMO, there is no one like them. Next best is a PPO.

  NeSmith- why wasn’t this discovered earlier? What happened?

  Dixon- you get the perfect storm, 7 new admins in 10 years, directors running the county, Clerk’s office to review what you say, Clerk asks you if you follow your own rules. Everything else is a policy decision. Bad info equals all bad.

  Mr. Thomas- you must adopt a budget tonight. Regarding situation, we do everything we can to make sure things are correct. We take heat but do our job to make sure you get a good audit report. Trying to ensure that in the end, things don’t end up in the audit report. Tries to ensure the county stays in good light with the state. In terms of budget, we’ve sent amendments to staff. Make sure things are tidied up within the statute and budget. Need a budget adopted tonight and on the 20th.

  Holt- we always submit a budget on time. Budget has to be stable to do anything. Have to have more than one working on the budget in case someone gets sick, has to be stable. Always had glitches but if you have good people in the department, they’ll catch it.
  NeSmith- we don’t want to repeat this, in the past it was your understanding we needed others in budget department, was request made? Holt- I don’t remember. NeSmith- Admin, $2.2million was expended/part of it was, when it was paid, (line item) it came from other area? Dixon- we don’t know. Basically, we presume, we didn’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out what was wrong, we knew. We knew y’all wanted to start clean. NeSmith- Clerk discovered issue. Dixon- yes, did their job. Biggest problem was which assumption was made/where.

  Dixon- it is a balanced budget. If you find things wrong, we’re sorry but we’ll fix it. We know you’ll find things you don’t agree with, but I need for you to understand that if you don’t do your own homework, that’s our fault. It’s not the Clerk’s job to do our job. It’s ours. We’ll come back to the Board to look at 3 years from now.

  Dr. V- Knew it was going to happen because of process of convolution. Lots of discourse because commissioners want things their way. Disappointed budget was on a thumb drive in a pocket. Ludacris if things are listed as revenue just to make budget look balanced. Do due diligence so we don’t ask for what we can’t afford.

  Hinson- been on a lot of boards. Read about things before making decision. Been requesting a budget meeting. Issue in Dec, why wasn’t it brought up in January. Constituents deserve more than this.

  Holt- we’ll find out in a few mins. We have 2 meetings. Pass the 2 items tonight,

  Hinson- arguing with Holt

  Dr. V- Let us come to some respect for the chair and the items at hand.

  Mrs. Daniels came before the board. Do have a balanced budget. Had to reach out to partners to assist, Integrity. Thanks them. 9.000 Millage rate. Up .5 mills over what there was. Generated $1.4 million in general fund. Covered single employee CHP. Fixed budget for snafu’s. “Fixed everything that we could possibly find”. Transportation fund, included new mowing crew in new budget and equipment needed (1 time expenditures, 6 staffers). Done things for supervisor of elections (equipment to purchase), increase in insurance and FRS.

  Nic Thomas- You have us as the same amount as the previous fiscal year. You have IT in one place as same amount but in another you have it as another. Same amounts as previous year. Page 3-15, Clerk of Court Board Finance. Increased county by $185k.

  Daniels- we will address but it’s a small amount.

  NeSmith- we need to generate revenue, based on the millage rate, that’s going to produce how much? $1.4 mil. Now we’re going to have an increase with CHP. Increase just a wash. Daniels stays silent. We would have had the opportunity to generate rev. if had 10% millage.

  Dr. V- is this balanced budget based on 9.000 millage rate? Yes. V-Need that millage rage in order to balance budget.  Cost benefit analysis of subcontracting mowing instead of county providing it (staff/equipment). Daniels- No, one done prior to coming. These staff are at the lowest of salary range. V- Just asking.

  Dixon- wanted to be able to over mow. Climate change, rain, what’s happening vs what will happen. Didn’t want to get into a contract that they couldn’t go back and mow. Start mowing earlier and end mowing later. Contract wouldn’t get us there.

  Holt-2.2 million in accounts receivable. Where

  Dixon- in emergency services fund during current fiscal year bc, unsure. Look at what’s going in the fund (ambulance transport, Medicare/caid). Tried to massage adjustments so they wouldn’t get a hit. Did have to make some up from general fund.

  Mr. Thomas- always be allowed to collect more than you bill. This happens often, always have to add money to EMS.

  Holt- always going to have bills, our part of Medicaid up or down? Keep money within the county by having a hospital for general medicine. Daniels-

  Dr. V- (listen back to understand point/question) EMS/ambulance, HJS meeting- justice and safety committee, proposal to reduce EMS charges.

  NeSmith- we need revenue.  When it comes to EMS services, is that revenue included in budget? Yes. How do we know what percentage of EMS revenue goes into next budget?  Look at past revenue. Keep it around what we’re actually receiving, offset by Medicaid/care and insurance adjustments.

  Mr. Thomas- Don’t want to privatize because revenue is $6 million but budget collected is $4 million. Cost of operation comes into play.

  NeSmith- there’s revenue that we haven’t collected because why? Excluding EMS. How much revenue is owed to the county? Dixon- Yes. You get revenue where we provide services to cities, it’s not millions. In house practice that bc people move and aren’t training, new/old people don’t know to bill.    

  Green- How much have we spent by outsourcing to Integrity. Daniels- I can’t tell you now but will tell you next meeting. Green- to ask or let us know? Daniels- to let you know how much is owed. Integrity com needed because of unskilled. Green- Is this something that should have come to us before it was made? Daniels- this was administrative decision. Had no other choice, didn’t have the time.  

  NeSmith- Did admin have an idea of what the rate was cost or will this be a bill with anything? Daniels- have a rate sheet, will know what they could charge. NeSmith- Clerk, could __ have helped? Dixon- We reached out but given the complexity and timeframe they couldn’t have. 

   Daniels- expenditures tab. Interfund transfers, increase of $538,000 of general fund. Lots of revenues aren’t coming in like they have been bc of pandemic and grant decreases. Overall increase of $1.4 million dollars that has been spent.

  Dr. V- Can we do first order of business and get it out of the way then have as much discussion as we can. Thankful for the workshops before next budget hearing, suggests dissect the budget in front of them there.

  Holt- do want Daniels to give highlights.

  NeSmith- no way we can enhance. No


 V- budget contingent on 9.00 mill then approve it bc rest can be what it is.











First Budget Public Hearing for Adoption of Tentative Millage Rate

  No comments regarding. Daniels read the script.

  Dr. V- What is the percentage difference between what we had and what we will have? .036 increase in order to have a balanced budget. 9.000 millage rate


V made motion, NeSmith seconded. Hinson opposes. 4-1.




Tentative Budget for Fiscal Year 2021/2022 (Edward J. Dixon, County Administrator)



 V suggests invest an hour or so in the budget highlights. 


  Daniels- Summer youth program, had a budget of $97k and proposing increase to $150k to expand program and include more youth.

  Hinson- was supposed to be $150k anyway. Daniels- that was one time funding. This will add some additional general fund. Hinson- yes, $150k. Holt- vehicle maintenance. Daniels- had some turnovers so things get forgotten/missed.


NeSmith stepped out at 8:00PM  


  Dr. V- Cell towers, $393k, what are we doing to cell towers to generate revenue? Daniels- we can look into it. These are actually radio towers, not cell towers. V- Budget says cell towers.

Dixon- (LISTEN) revenue V- those towers part of infrastructure? Yes.


  Daniels- maintenance agreement contracts haven’t been looked at for 3 years.

  Daniels- Medicaid, small reduction of $100,000. Co. Commissioners office has included funding for 5 interns. NeSmith- fulltime or aides? Daniels- Either.

  V- Advocating for aides. Says other counties have them. Relieve what all pressure commissioners put on the staff to do (like assembling budget books)

  Hinson- NeSmith, all you have to do is say you want aides, just bring it up and vote on it. 

  Holt- doesn’t agree with aides bc no budget for it, someone has to hit the ground running and elected ones knew that when being elected. Aides can be effective but people will look for commissioner instead of the aide. Not getting the work done without them regardless.

 Green- appreciates the intern line item and hopes it becomes something more. Dixon- Resources we’re not set up to handle, hard to do research for a commissioner.

  NeSmith- should have had aides a long time ago, in all quality-of-life parameters we’re bottom. What we’re doing hasn’t worked, have to do something different.  

  Hinson- explains how to suggest aides formally.

  V- Nothing wrong with documenting/discussing aides, Aides can’t be doing work for commissioner. Problem is to find space for aides. Put all legs in place first so it doesn’t collapse.

  Hinson- suggests aides work in the office down here and move those down up to the top floor. Holt- need people to work SHIP and housing which is why they’re there. Can’t be in general location with people’s information. Needed the help in housing.      


V stepped out at 8:22PM


  NeSmith- Co. Ad. Is resourceful.

  Green- reminds to stay on track.

  Daniels- $50k in reserve for contingency, upped it to $100k.

  Fuel system, current fuel tanks at public works are above ground, they are old and need to be replaced. Budgeted for that.

  Hinson- sales tax doesn’t cover it? Daniels- general funds function bc it covers all county vehicles. Hinson- Wants to clarify if it can be funded by the 6-cent sales tax. Daniels- that can only be used for roads.



Dr. V Returned at 8:26PM.


  Right of way includes the new mowing crew. $500k. $4k is one time. Gas tax because roadway. Hinson-suggests contacting out. Daniels- you lose control with a contract because you can’t mow outside the contract. Hinson- equipment will be about $400k. Defends outsourcing.

  Green- considered merging with school board in reference to mowing? Leon does a collab. Daniels- have to be careful because it’s purchased with gas tax funds, so has to be used on right of ways. Schools won’t qualify. Holt- have to buy new equipment anyway. Dixon-Where we can, we have started to cooperate with school districts.           

  Hinson- suggests County employees do district 1,2, and 5, or other mix. Contractors can be 1 and 2 or vice versa.

  Daniels- $76k is to fund accounting services to payroll and services Clerk provides to property appraiser that he didn’t previously charge for. Combine some positions and IT/GIS.

  Supervisor of elections- $135k, one time funding. Dixon- haven’t addressed is her building and construction needs, needs more space. Do some creative adjusting to address the need.

  Dr. V- supervisor of elections, concerned with space of them bc it’s funded with federal money (?). Have to find space for every citizen that wants to observe the counting of ballots. Law requires space for every citizen that wants to observe. It’s an unfunded mandate, space is imperative before 2022 election. Canvasing board has to have enough room. Suggests supervisor of elections request very seriously because it’s a legislative unfunded mandate. Not enough in the budget for it. Holt- not in the budget you’d have to look, may need to look at leasing space. Dixon- looking at all opportunities, leasing okay or do we have to build a new space.

  Dr. V- Would like to see the old jail, Clerk’s records, be stored somewhere else. Would be a good place for new supervisor of elections place.

  NeSmith- to comply with law V brought up, reason why we can’t hold elections at GES HS. Holt- Supervisor of Elections has to have an input.  Dixon- security is their number one goal. She needs to be involved.

  Daniels- mosquito control, no additional increases/decreases. Constitutional officers do not get increases.

  Dr. V- Clerk’s technology request. Daniels- yes, related to FRS and Insurance increase

  NeSmith- Boat improvements? Holt- Boat ramps. Daniels- pat Thomas launching fees, boat ramps improvements. Dr. V- reword it as it looks like the county owns a boat.

  Daniels- EMS funds, reductions are funds moved from operation budget to debt services budget. Ambulance leasing funds.

   Holt- something about challenging the Census within the budget? Daniels- did not budget for it. Holt- Staff needs to know what contractors are doing, accountability.  

  Dr. V- preamble to the section action? If so, please read it so we can make a motion.


   V motioned to adopt, NeSmith seconded. 4-1, Hinson.

  September 20th, 6pm second budget meeting.


V motioned, NeSmith seconded.  Passes 5-0





Adjourned at 8:53pm.





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