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County OKs more deputies
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A growing county means growing government.

That was again illustrated Tuesday, when Bryan County Commissioners approved a request by Sheriff Mark Crowe to add four more deputies as well as positions for a E-911 director and assistant director.

The deputies will work in traffic and courthouse security. The positions, approved at the commission’s Tuesday night meeting in Richmond Hill, will bring the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office up to 72 full time and three part time employees.

The E-911 department will now have 17 full time and one part time employee, according to county documents.

The additional employees were approved through a 2021 budget amendment by commissioners which increases the payroll for E-911 employees from $510,500 to $601,000 and the BCSO payroll from $3.048 million to $3.186 million.

The amounts do not include the cost of health insurance and other benefits, which are becoming increasingly costly for local governments.

For example, the county will play an estimated $446,200 in health insurance for BCSO’s 72 employees employees, another $35,100 for dental and vision and $266,200 in FICA, or Social Security benefits.

The sheriff’s department is the costliest item on the county’s annual budget, and has an $5.8 million budget in 2021. Bryan County Fire and Emergency Services is the next biggest expense, at $4.3 million, and spending by department on roads, courts, recreation and county government each weighs in at more than $2 million in 2021, according to a breakdown of expenditures by department.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioners approved amendments to its 2020 budget to close the books on its financial report, according to Ben Taylor, county administrator. Such amendments are s considered a standard procedure.

In this case, Byran County budgeted $48.9 million in expenditures and $49.1 in revenue in 2020, but had more than $57 million in revenues and $50.9 in spending. Also Tuesday, commissioners held the first reading of an ordinance which will amend the county’s official zoning map. It is being made at the request of Drayton-Parkers, LLC, which wants to rezone 12.45 acres off Highway 280 in Blitchton in order to make way for a warehouse.

The county didn’t take any action. A public hearing on April 20 before the Planning and Zoning Commission and a public hearing and second reading of the ordinance before county commissioners will be held May 11. County officials also entered into a “traffic contribution agreement with North Bryan Properties, LLC, in which the company will pay $82,500 toward the cost of a traffic light at Oracal Parkway/’Interstate Centre and Highway 280.

The company is developing a commercial subdivision called Interstate Exchange in the area, which has become increasingly congested.

The county “is requiring developers to pay their proportionate share for the traffic signal based on the anticipated impacts from the increased traffic volumes,” according to the April 13 commission workbook.

The workbook says the signal will cost about $250,000.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has not approved a traffic light at the signal yet, but “the funds will be held in escrow” until GDOT agrees to install a light, the county said.

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