|News from Banks County...||
March 20, 2002
Go to Jackson County
Leopards head into region battles
Neighboorhood News ..
Boom town BraseltonTown may get 3 million-square-foot retail, distribution center warehouse
South Jackson murder to be on Americas Most Wanted
Neighboorhood News ..
Grocery store may locate on Hwy. 72
Poisoning kills seven pet dogs
Alto citizens air complaints in heated council discussions
Alto citizens filled the small town hall in Alto Friday night to ask the council a number of potentially sensitive questions.
The first concerned whether or not they would be holding an election for the vacant council seat.
When former Mayor Jack King resigned in December, Carolyn Gulley, as mayor pro-tem, took over the mayors position leaving a vacant seat.
Alto city attorney Jim Acrey said it was the councils discretion whether to hold a special election for the vacant seat or make an appointment.
The charter makes no specific directions, he said. As long as the meetings have a quorum, they do not have to do anything.
Former mayor Grover Stewart said: You should appoint someone or have an election.
Donald Wade replied: Thats a dead horse.
Gulley said an election would cost too much.
A heated discussion also arose about the legality of the towns employment of council member Wade as a water operator.
Wade said he was contracted to perform certain duties regarding the quality control of the water system. Since he was contracted, it was legal for him to be in the citys employ, he said.
Citizens were also confused as to the exact title of the new man that had been hired in the city who they thought was a public works director and questioned why he makes more than other city employees who have been with the city for a longer period of time.
City clerk Barbara Reynolds provided a list of employees and their wages. They are as follows: Reynolds, $13 per hour, over four years of service; Lisa Turner, assistant clerk and bookkeeper, $11.02 per hour, over two years of service; Wiley Cook, field laborer, $10.50 per hour, over two years service; Donnie Ray, field laborer, $8.50 per hour, six months of service; Charlie Wade, temporary field laborer, $8.50 per hour, over 20 years of service; Wendell Sullens, public works supervisor, $591.20 per week, ($14.77 per hour), five weeks on the job.
During the discussion, it was not made clear whether or not Sullens has the qualifications to fulfill the role of public works supervisor. The council preferred calling him a field laborer and said he would be undergoing training.
On the same issue, the citizens wanted to know why the council did not advertise for the position. The council said they had advertised last year for the position and went through the applications they had to hire Sullins.
Wade also said he had been receiving flack about family members serving on the council. Donald is married to councilwoman Susan Wade.
Mayor Gulley intervened and said: We inherited a mess. I have been apologizing since January for things I didnt know about. We are trying our level best to set things straight. We just need some time.
At one point, the citizens agreed that maybe it would be better to just dissolve the town and let the county run things.
Donald Wade said the issue could be put before the residents of Alto in a special election.
Resident Tim Tanksley said Baldwin would overtake and annex the city if it dissolved. The council shared the Baldwin absorption theory and said they need to take action to plan annexations that reached out to Highway 365.
Former mayor Grover Stewart, a consistant atendee at all the council meetings, asked why expand at all.
If we dont have the water, why annex and continue to extend lines? he asked. He suggested the town vote on whether or not to expand the water system and control growth.
Gulley said the Department of Natural Resources is reviewing the request Alto had made to dig new wells.
He was under the impression that we had 22 wells in working condition, he said. He didnt know we actually only have 11.
Gulley said: No one around here can cover our water needs. We dont want to buy from Baldwin. It costs too much.
Susan Wade said her grandparents lived in Baldwin and were paying $50 per month for water only. They were on a septic system and did not have to pay the sewage fees or they would be charged a lot more, she said.
Many residents were upset about the increase the council enacted to pay costs for water and trash pick-up. They did not understand how the town suddenly needed more money.
Gulley explained the city was losing money on the water department and trash pick-up and the residents would have to pay the increase.
In other business, the council:
discussed regulations for yard sales. A limit of four sales per year was discussed. A refundable fee of $10 for a permit will have to be paid prior to the yard sale, leaders said. It will be allowed to continue over two days. Once the signage was removed and the area cleaned up, the $10 would be refunded. A motion was made and passed by all to enact the yard sale ordinance beginning April 1.
denied Tim Tanksleys request for a variance to put a mobile home on his land as a rental unit on the basis that he did not meet lot size requirements.
Banks County Historical Society to meet April 1
The Banks County Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 1, in the museum room of the historic courthouse in Homer.
The guest speaker will be Jorene Martin, regional preservation planner from the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center. She has worked at the RDC for seven years assisting local governments, non-profit organizations and property owners in a 13-county region with historic preservation projects. She has a masters degree from the University of Georgia in historic preservation. She is planning to speak on the basics of historic preservation and how it can be used in a community as an economic development tool.
Leaders say that anyone interested is encouraged to attend and all members are encouraged to bring a friend. For more information, call 677-2431.
Lula may be in bind over loss of sales tax funds
The Lula City Council heard the bad news from Mayor Milton Turner Monday night about the loss of funds anticipated from Hall Countys local option sales tax (LOST)
Turner has been attending the negotiating meetings and he says the outlook does not look good.
He prepared a spreadsheet showing the various amounts the city would lose depending on which plan is voted in and how much tax the city will have to charge to make up the loss.
Turner said Banks County dealt in a fair way with the city.
Though the city will lose $10,992 in funds, he said Banks County chose to disburse their LOST funds according to population.
The reduction in funds from Banks is due to an incorrect count of Banks County residents living in the city of Lula, he said.
He said in Hall County, the decision is in the hands of two representatives from the county and two representatives from Gainesville.
Only those two entities had voting power because of the population figures.
None of the smaller cities, including Clermont, Buford, Oakwood, Lula or Gillsville, have a say in how the LOST funds are distributed.
Hall County wants to take the combination of population and the tax digest as the method of disbursement.
If this plan is voted in, Lula, which has a small tax base, would lose $105,283.
The city of Gainesville proposed two plans: one strictly by population; and one of a tax digest only.
Those two plans would cost Lula $17,159 and $130,072 respectively.
No matter the method chosen, Lula will have to look at setting a millage rate to make up the loss, the mayor said.
That could mean a property tax that could be as high as 7.5 mills.
For a city that has always relied on LOST funds from Banks and Hall counties to roll back taxes, it is a step the council does not want to make.
Unfortunately, said Turner, there may be no alternative.
We have to cover the losses to continue providing city services, he said.