News from Madison County...

November 7, 2000


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OPINIONS

Frank Gillispie
BOE taking right steps

Things are going as they should at our board of education. The board is being confronted by citizens of Madison County who insist on knowing how and why tax money is being spent by the school system.

Zach Mitcham
Thinking about the election

Like most people, I'm wondering what Tuesday will bring.
I'm anticipating the late night and the workers from each precinct bringing in their tallies. The numbers will be called out and the fate of each candidate will take shape gradually.


SPORTS
SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!

MCHS to take on Athens Christian in season finale
After Madison County's season-opening 14-10 win over South Forysth in Cumming, the Madison County football team, along with parents and fans, gathered around Raider coach Tom Hybl on the field. ... With one game remaining this year - an 8 p.m. showdown Friday night at Athens Christian off Hwy. 29 - Madison County is poised to go 10-0 for the first time in school history.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Baldwin, Demorest still at odds over water plant
Winning the arbitration was just the first step of an uphill climb by Baldwin officials to wrest control of the water plant from Demorest.
Baldwin officials say they have been kept in the dark as to what has or has not been done up at the pumping station. City leaders say they have not seen any bookkeeping records, maintenance logs, plant records or expens reports.

Wilbanks asks for new trial in home invasion
A man found guilty in a 1999 home invasion in Banks County has asked for a retrial.


News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
Taste Of Jackson Set Thursday At Civic Center
It's billed as the "Taste of Jackson County/Business Showcase," but it's really a party with beverages, food and giveaway items covered by the $5 admission charge.

Taxes, water the major issues, according to House candidates
Incumbent Rep. Scott Tolbert (R) said the most important issue facing Jackson County is increasing taxes. His opponent, Pat Bell (D) said access to water will be the most important issue facing county residents in the coming years.


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The Madison County Journal
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BEAUTIES AND MONSTERS

Danielsville Elementary kindergartners trick-or-treated each other's classes Tuesday afternoon as part of the school's Halloween festivities. (L-R) Neah Anglin, Chaz Hudson and Leah Barger, of Rhonda Crowe's class, wait patiently for their next stop for treats.



Amendments, referendums to be on Tues. ballot
The following proposed constitutional amendments will appear on the Nov. 7 general election ballot:
Amendment 1
Shall the Constitution be amended so as to provide for selection of a replacement for any member of the General Assembly who has been initially convicted by felony?"
This proposal provides that upon the initial conviction of any member of the General Assembly for any felony in a trial court of this state or the United States, the member shall be immediately suspended from office and a replacement member shall be elected to serve for the duration of the suspension. The suspension lasts until the end of the member's term or until the member's conviction becomes final or the conviction is overturned, whichever is earlier. The proposed amendment ensures legislative representation during the suspension of a member of the state Senate or House of Representatives upon initial conviction for a felony. The election of a replacement member is the same as the procedure for filling a vacancy in the General Assembly.
Amendment 2
Shall the Constitution be amended so as to provide for a homeowner's incentive adjustment for ad valorem property tax relief?"
This proposal provides for an adjustment on the ad valorem property tax return of each taxpayer claiming the state-wide homestead exemption. The amount of the adjustment may be equivalent to a homestead exemption of up to $18,000 of the assessed value of the homestead or the taxpayer's ad valorem tax liability on the homestead, whichever is lower. Each year, the General Assembly may appropriate the amount of the tax credit as grants to local governments and school districts for homeowner tax relief. The procedures and conditions for the adjustments and grants shall be subject to the provisions of general law.
Amendment 3
Shall the Constitution be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide a program of compensation for law enforcement officers who become physically disabled, but not permanently disabled, as a result of physical injury incurred in the line of duty and caused by a willful act of violence and for firemen who become physically disabled, but not permanently disabled, as a result of physical injury incurred while fighting a fire, which program shall entitle an injured law enforcement officer or fireman to receive monthly compensation from the state in an amount equal to such person's regular compensation for the period of time that the law enforcement officer or fireman is physically unable to perform the duties of his or her employment, not exceeding 12 months and with certain exceptions?"
This proposal authorizes the General Assembly to provide for a program of compensation for injuries incurred by law enforcement officers and firemen who become physically disabled but not permanently disabled in the line of duty. Monthly compensation from the state in an amount equal to such person's regular compensation is authorized for the period of time that the law enforcement officer or fireman is physically unable to perform the duties of employment for a period up to a total of 12 months. Satisfactory evidence of disability shall be required and such benefits shall be subordinate to workers' compensation
benefits, disability, and other compensation benefits awarded from an employer and shall be limited to the difference between the benefits actually paid by the employer and the amount of the person's regular compensation. Any law enforcement officer or fireman who receives payments under the state indemnification program for permanent disability is excluded from this compensation program.
Amendment 4
Shall the Constitution be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by law for indemnification with respect to public school teachers, administrators, and employees who are killed or permanently disabled by an act of violence in the line of duty, a nonlapsing indemnification fund for such purposes, and dedication of revenue from special and distinctive motor vehicle license plates honoring Georgia educators to such fund?"
This proposal authorizes the General Assembly to enact an indemnification program for public school teachers, administrators, and employees who are killed or permanently disabled by an act of violence in the line of duty and to establish a nonlapsing fund for such purposes with revenue from special and distinctive motor vehicle license plates honoring state educators.
Amendment 5
Shall the Constitution be amended so as to provide that the General Assembly may provide by law for a program for indemnification with respect to the death or permanent disability of any state highway employee who is or at any time in the past was killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty?"
This proposal authorizes the General Assembly to create a program of indemnification with respect to the death or permanent disability of any state highway employee who is or at any time in the past was killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Funds shall be appropriated as necessary for payment of such indemnification and for the purchase of insurance.
Amendment 6
Shall the Constitution be amended so as to provide that marine vessels may be classified as a separate class of property for ad valorem property tax purposes, and such class may be divided into separate subclasses for ad valorem purposes and to authorize the General Assembly to provide by general law for the ad valorem taxation of marine vessels including, but not limited to, providing for different rates, methods, assessment dates, and taxpayer liability for such class and for each of its subclasses and need not provide for uniformity of taxation with other classes of property or between or within its subclasses?
This proposal authorizes the creation of a separate class of property for ad valorem property tax purposes to be known as marine vessels and authorizes the creation of separate subclasses of marine vessels for tax purposes. The General Assembly is authorized to provide for different rates, methods, assessment dates and taxpayer liability for such class and need not provide for uniformity with other classes of property or for uniformity among the subclasses of marine vessels. The portion of any ad valorem tax on marine vessels to be retained by the state shall be as provided by law. Marine vessels are defined as all vessels used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, except for seaplanes.
Amendment 7
Shall the Constitution be amended so as to increase from five years to seven years the time of which state court judges must have been admitted to the practice of law?"
This proposal increases the experience requirement for eligibility for the office of state court judge by requiring that such persons shall have been admitted to practice law for seven years. The proposed amendment changes the requirement from five years to seven years' experience and would not apply to state court judges elected or appointed in the year 2000 or earlier.
Referendum A
Shall the Act be approved which exempts from ad valorem taxes certain fixed and mobile farm equipment used by family owned qualified farm products producers?
This Act grants family owned farms an exemption from all ad valorem taxation for farm tractors, combines and all other farm equipment other than motor vehicles used in the production of agricultural products. If approved by a majority of the voters, the Act becomes effective on January 1, 2001, and applies to all tax years beginning on or after that date.
Referendum B
Shall the Act be approved which increases from $300 to $2,500 the ad valorem tax exemption for all tools and implements of trade of manual laborers?
This Act increases to $2,500 the personal property ad valorem tax exemption granted to manual laborers residing in Georgia with respect to tools and implements of trade. Current law exempts up to $300 of the actual value of such tools and implements owned by each laborer. If approved by a majority of the voters, the Act becomes effective on January 1, 2001, and applies to all tax years beginning on or after that date.
Referendum C
Shall the Act be approved which provides that any person who is a citizen and resident of Georgia and who is an unremarried surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces of the United States, which member has been killed in any war or armed conflict in which the armed forces of the United States engaged, whether under United States command or otherwise, shall be granted a homestead exemption from all ad valorem taxation for state, county, municipal, and school purposes in the same amount as that to which a disabled veteran is entitled under other provisions of law?
This Act grants to the unremarried surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces of the United Sates killed in service during a war or armed conflict a homestead exemption from all ad valorem taxation for state, county, municipal, and school purposes in the same amount as that to which a disabled veteran is granted by law. Current law only grants such an exemption to a disabled veteran or the unremarried surviving spouse of a disabled veteran, and the exemption amounts to $43,000. If approved by a majority of the voters, the Act becomes effective on January 1, 2001, and applies to all tax years beginning on or after that date.
Referendum D
Shall the Act be approved which provides an ad valorem tax exemption with respect to the property of Elks Lodges?
This Act excludes Elks Lodges from all ad valorem taxation for state, county, municipal and school purposes provided such property is used exclusively for charitable, fraternal or benevolent purposes.
If approved by a majority of the voters, the Act becomes effective on January 1, 2001, and applies to all tax years beginning on or after that date.


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County to pick favorites in 11 contested local elections
After months of listening to the candidates, voters will have their turn to speak Tuesday.
Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. in Madison County's 12 precincts.
Up for grabs in Madison County are the county commission chairman's seat, four commissioner's posts, a school board position, the clerk of court, the probate judge and the state house and state senate representatives.
Candidates for the BOC chairman's post are Republican incumbent Wesley Nash and Democratic challenger Nelson Nash. Those seeking the BOC District 1 seat are Democratic incumbent Bill Taylor and Republican John Brueshaber. In the District 2 BOC race, Republican Larry Stewart will face Democrat Johnny Fitzpatrick. Republican Danny Andrews and Democrat Mike Youngblood are vying for the BOC District 3 post. And Republican incumbent Bruce Scogin will face Democrat Marion Baker in the BOC District 5 race.
The lone school board seat up for grabs is in District 5, where incumbent Democrat Jimmy Patton will be challenged by Republican Ric Power.
In the State House of Representatives District 24 race, Republican incumbent Ralph Hudgens will face Democrat Doug McKillip, while in the State Senate District 47 race, Democratic incumbent Eddie Madden will be challenged by Republican Mike Beatty.
Several county officials will also be on the ballot without opposition Tuesday. They include sheriff Clayton Lowe, tax commissioner Louise Watson, BOC District 4 representative Melvin Drake, District 3 school board member John Mason, BOE District 4 representative Jim Patton (no relation to District 5 member Jimmy Patton) and surveyor James Smith.
The Madison County registrar's office has sent out 368 absentee ballots for Tuesday's election. There were 12,538 registered voters in Madison County as of October.
For indepth coverage of each candidate, see this week's Madison County Journal.




Madison County BOE to hold forum on school finances
The Madison County Board of Education will hold a public forum on the financial state of the school system Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. Board members and other school officials will field questions from the public regarding the school system's current finance problems.
The board recently agreed to borrow $895,000 after it was revealed that the system may have a $2 million cash shortfall by the end of the year. Last week, the board announced plans to raise local property taxes for schools by 28 percent.
A required tax rate hearing may also be held in conjunction with the Nov. 30 meeting.
On Monday, the school board adopted a tentative budget for FY2001. The board was required to submit a budget by Oct. 31 for state approval. The tentative budget includes property tax rates of 14 mills for operations and 1.8 mills for bond payments.
The actual millage rates cannot be set until a final tax digest is released by Tax Commissioner Louise Watson. Once the digest is approved, the board will set a millage rate to raise local school funds.
SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH
Frank King, a retired school superintendent from Thomaston, has offered his services in developing a search program for a new superintendent. He would offer advice and suggestions for an independent search for a fee of several hundred dollars. Professional organizations that conduct such searches charge $10,000 or more. BOE Chairman Jimmy Patton will contact Mr. King for references.