News from Jackson County...

MAY 22, 2002


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A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

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SPORTS

Diamond Dragons reach state’s final four
To host defending champ Walker
Jefferson High School’s Diamond Dragons defeated Wilcox County 13-4 Tuesday to advance to the Class A state semifinals.
The Dragons will next host defending state champion Walker this weekend. The series will begin Friday at 2 p.m. and continue with game two Saturday at 3 p.m. If a third game is necessary, it would be played immediately following game two.

Commerce High School Ranked Eighth In Georgia Athletic Director’s Cup Standings
Even in a down year, Commerce’s sports program managed to rank amongst the tops in Class A.
Bolstered by a state championship in competitive cheerleading, the Commerce athletic program is currently rated eighth in the state in their classification in the Georgia Athletic Directors Association’s (GADA) Gatorade/Josten Directors’ Cup standings.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
For MCHS Class of 2002
Some 200 Madison County seniors will bid farewell to their high school at the Classic Center Friday as they eye a new phase of life.
The 2002 MCHS commencement ceremony is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Athens Classic Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are required.

Touchdown Club speaks up for Hybl
Parents, players and Touchdown Club members crowded the May meeting of the Madison County Board of Education Tuesday night to make clear their support of Madison County High School football coach and athletic director Tom Hybl.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Lula puts up a fight
City to fight Hall County BOC annexation opposition
The Lula City Council voted unanimously Monday night to fight the Hall County Board of Commissioners’ denial of the town’s request to annex a 138-acre plot north of Belton Bridge Road that would extend the city limits to Highway 365.

A Day at the Fort coming up Saturday
A Day at the Fort is planned for Saturday, May 25, at Fort Hollingsworth White House, located on Wynn Lake Road, off Highway 441, between Cornelia and Homer.

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RABIES CLINIC HELD

Vet tech Emily Gaines from the Jefferson Animal Clinic gives Dax a shot at the rabies clinic Thursday. Dax’s owner is Scott Perrin from Arcade. Rabies clinics were held throughout the county last week.

Britt submits Hwy. 129 courthouse site for study
Meeting set up for May 28 to hear from three architects
Jackson County commissioner Stacey Britt put a third option for a new courthouse location on the table for BOC consideration Monday night. In addition, commissioner Emil Beshara set a public meeting for next Tuesday at 7 p.m. for three architectural firms to give presentations about what they believe are the most important aspects of a site selection.
Both actions come as the clock winds down on the BOC’s time to make a final decision about the proposed Darnell Road location for a new courthouse. Several options taken by the BOC in February on 150 acres along Darnell Road are set to expire soon. The BOC is expected to call a final vote within the next two weeks on purchasing that location.
Monday night, Britt presented a map for a 37-acre site at Hwy. 129 and Storey Lane north of Jefferson across from Faith Baptist Church. No action was taken on the site and Britt only asked that the other board members consider looking at it.
The site is close to where the new Jefferson bypass will end on Hwy. 129. Britt said earlier that road improvements along Storey Lane to the Dry Pond exit could make the location accessible to residents of Maysville and Commerce without having to drive through downtown Jefferson.
TUESDAY MEETING
Beshara’s call for a public hearing next Tuesday is to allow the public to ask professional architects questions about the possible factors to consider in a site selection. It is expected to be the final opportunity for public comment before the board votes on the proposed Darnell Road location.
The site on Darnell Road and a site in downtown Jefferson have been reviewed and debated by the BOC. The Darnell Road site was the one that the county took options to purchase and it was presented by the BOC at several public hearings in early spring.
Board members have been strongly opposed to putting any new courthouse facility in downtown Jefferson. The downtown site is supported by a number of Jefferson business leaders and was the recommended site coming from a previous study done by a committee of citizens and the firm of Leo Daly.
At Monday’s meeting, BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said that no final decision has been made on a site. Privately, however, he and some other commissioners have voiced strong support of the Darnell Road location.


Towns forming alliance on sales tax negotiations
In the first-ever action of its kind, municipal leaders in Jackson County appear ready to form an alliance for the re-negotiation of the county’s local option sales tax distribution.
Meeting at the Jefferson city clubhouse Monday night, members from seven of the county’s nine municipal governments got together to discuss legal and strategic aspects of the sales tax distribution formula.
By state law, the county and its towns must set a date to begin negotiations about the sales tax distribution formula by July 1. The group will then have 60 days to finish the process once it begins. The process is supposed to be initiated by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, but if it isn’t, the towns can begin the process, said one official.
The formula agreed upon between the towns and county for sales tax distribution will be set for 10 years, until the 2010 census is completed. If the towns and county can’t agree on a formula, the matter will head for arbitration.
The group agreed to meet again June 11 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the plans further.
STICKING TOGETHER
In the past, the sales tax has been distributed in Jackson County based on the relative population of the towns and unincorporated Jackson County. But that isn’t the only formula available, officials said Monday night. Indeed, there are several variations of how population can be counted for the distribution formula and there are other formulas based on service delivery concerns.
Although Commerce and Jefferson, being the two biggest cities, are the only municipalities that will actually sign off on a final LOST agreement with Jackson County, Jefferson’s Mayor Jim Joiner called Monday for the cities to work together to come up with a plan that would benefit the most groups involved — one which the municipalities could put on the table in the upcoming negotiations with the county.
“We’re fixing to enter into something very important to each city in Jackson County,” Joiner said. “Whatever is negotiated this year, we’re stuck with for 10 years, so it is very important that we stand up and are heard.”
THE ‘8 PILLARS’
In the past, the most popular way to determine sales tax fund distribution has been by population, explained David Clabo, Jefferson’s city manager. However, the General Assembly has since developed some new criteria – the “8 Pillars” – which counties and cities can also use to set the distribution percentages, specifically considering service delivery and service funding, not just population.
“I think it was simpler to do it by population, which is why it was done that way in the past,” explained Jefferson’s attorney Ronnie Hopkins. “The ‘8 Pillars’ are additional ways you can determine how the funds are distributed. It takes more work to determine – how the services are delivered and how much credit is earned for that...This is a little more complicated, but it may be a fairer way and it is one that is provided for by law...Think of all the things your city does for you people.”
Joiner gave examples of some of the services provided by a county as court, sheriff, roads and health; some services provided by a municipality might include water, sewage, municipal court, police and fire.
“This (‘8 Pillars’) proposes you do a service analysis for county and cities and weigh them,” Hopkins explained. “Then you say, ‘the county’s portion should be this and the cities’ should be this.’ The rationale would be, we need additional funds because we provide these services.”
Barbara Kesler, city clerk of Arcade, pointed out that the 1998 service delivery strategy would need to be updated in that case, saying that Arcade now offers services that it didn’t four years ago.
DEFINITIONS OF POPULATION
Another consideration, one which Clabo said may actually be at the crux of the negotiations, is what is determined as the definition of “population” — whether it is “weighted” or not.
Basically, “weighted” population involves a formula that counts a city’s population as if residents are both city and county residents, Hopkins said.
“It’s almost like you count (a city resident) once for the city and once for the county,” he said. “If distribution is based on weighted population, the county stands to gain and all cities stand to lose. Nothing says you will have to use the weighted population.”
The definition of population makes a difference in the fund distribution, as shown in the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia’s web site, which gives the 1990 and 2000 census counts and figures potential LOST distribution on population and weighted population, with no service delivery determinations figured in.
For example, based on population Jefferson could see $575,559; with weighted population, that potential figure drops to $422,347. Likewise, the county could see $3,987,839 with LOST distribution based on population and $4,592,157 based on weighted population.
Joiner was quick to point out that those are ACCG perusals, not Jackson County’s, and that “we don’t know that’s what Jackson County will propose. It’s just what ACCG offers as a possibility.”
RE-NEGOTIATING POWER?
Kesler pointed out that the smaller towns, which make up less than 50 percent of the county’s population, “will have to stick together to have any re-negotiating power.”
“And that’s exactly why we’re here together,” Joiner added.
Would it be possible to have a scenario by which everyone gains? Trapper Brissey of Talmo wondered.
Clabo responded: “The pie’s only so big...somebody’s going to get less.”
“Even if it’s divided by population, somebody’s going to get less,” Joiner added.
Since Braselton is the only municipality to have already undergone one round of LOST re-negotiations — with Hall County – the cities’ group agreed for the town to forward copies of the six different plans looked at in Hall County so that the local city representatives could be getting ideas on possible approaches to the negotiation process. Kesler said she would check with the Department of Revenue to see if any other counties have filed certificates and, if so, how they approached distribution.
“We wanted to meet tonight to throw this out there and discuss it,” Joiner said. “There’s nothing to decide tonight except if we want to continue (with discussions).”


Braselton payroll to jump 55%
For the next fiscal year, Braselton’s payroll will jump nearly 55 percent.
During fiscal year 2002, the town paid more than $408,000 in annual salaries. Come the 2003 fiscal year in July, the town has budgeted more than $633,000 in payroll. Neither figure includes benefits or overtime pay.
While salary increases for current town employees range from three to 22 percent, the jump largely comes from the creation of 10 new jobs.
“Basically, what we looked at, overall, we averaged pretty much six percent for the majority of the employees, but we looked at public safety a little bit differently,” mayor Pat Graham said.
“Our officers’ base pay needed to be increased,” Graham said, while adding several of the officers have taken on additional duties or have been promoted.
“So, for the most part, our salary increases were six percent for town employees, with the exception of public safety,” she added.
Three new police officers at an annual salary of $23,920 each, without benefits or overtime pay, will fill the police department’s request for more full-time officers.
Police chief Terry Esco, who is currently paid $39,686 a year, will see his salary increase by more than 15 percent next year to $46,000.
Police Lieutenant Rusty Turpin’s salary will move from $24,960 a year to $30,000—a 20 percent raise. Sergeant Royce Stockton’s annual pay will increase from $24,960 a year to $28,000.
A second police sergeant, Robert Gable, is slated for a pay increase from $22,800 to $28,000 a year. Gable’s raise accounts for the town’s largest pay increase at 22 percent.
Officer George Savage, who is currently paid $22,800 a year, will have his annual pay increased by 11 percent to $25,600.
Another Braselton department expected to see its share of the payroll increase is the town’s water department.
Two new waste water operators, who will be paid $14 to $17 per hour at 40 hours a week, are designated as proposed positions next fiscal year. A third water operator at the same pay rate and water locator at $9 to $11 per hour are also proposed. The salaries of the four proposed positions are not included in the town’s total cost for annual pay next fiscal year.
Water superintendent Dwight Cheek and waste water superintendent Paul (Buddy) Cheek will both see their annual pay rates rise by six percent from $38,357 a year to $40,658.
Tony McNeal, a meter reader, will have his pay increased by three percent from $25,300 to $26,059 a year.
At the town hall, Braselton clerk Jennifer Scott’s annual salary will increase from $52,000 to $55,120—a six percent increase.
Town court clerk Becky Skelton’s salary will move by more than six percent from $33,280 to $35,360. Administrative assistant and assistant court clerk Lauren Dempsey is slated for a 10 percent pay increase from $20,800 to $22,880 a year.
Bookkeeper Wanda Richardson’s pay will rise from $23,400 to $33,280. She also begins working 40 hours, instead of the current 30 hours a week.
A receptionist position at $18,720 a year is also proposed for the town.
In the Braselton planning department, the town is expected to hire a full-time planner at $50,000 a year. A full-time building inspector, to replace the town’s current part-time inspector, will be hired at an annual pay of $38,000.
Ralph Richardson, zoning enforcement officer, will have a seven percent pay raise to $31,200 a year.
The town’s recently-hired West Jackson librarian, Bev Adkins, will be paid $12,480 a year. She will work 24 hours a week.
Of the 24 town employee positions slated for next fiscal year, only four will not be paid at an hourly rate. Scott, Esco, the town planner and building inspector are salaried positions.
Among the town positions currently filled, Braselton will pay more than $477,000 in total pay including benefits.
The town’s pay roll was approved by the town council following two closed-door meetings last week to review employee wages and issues. With budget talks continuing through June 6, when the town holds a public hearing, Scott said the employee pay roll is the only section of the budget that has been finalized.


Talmo man murdered
A Talmo man died early Saturday morning in a shooting in North Jackson.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Department chief investigator David Cochran said deputies were called to Pleasant Hill Mobile Home Park in Talmo around 3 a.m. Saturday. He said Domingo Salazar, 34, Talmo, was found at the scene with gunshot wounds.
Salazar was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center where he was declared dead on arrival, according to Cochran.
Cochran said the sheriff’s department has identified a suspect, Jose Gonalez, 14 Pleasant Hill Mobile Home Park, Talmo. He said that Gonalez, who fled from the scene, is wanted on murder charges. He also said the charges would be upgraded to felony murder after Gonalez is apprehended.
“There is no clear motive at this time as to what the shooting was about,” Cochran said. “It is still under investigation and we are still following leads.”
He said the two men did know each other and were friends.


JHS, JCCHS graduations set for Fri.
After four years of walking down the halls of their schools more than 300 area high school seniors will walk down the aisle for their diplomas on Friday night.
Starting at 7 p.m., Jefferson High School’s graduation ceremony will take place at Memorial Stadium. Tickets are not required.
At 8 p.m., the Jackson County Comprehensive High School seniors will receive their diplomas during their graduation ceremony at Panther Stadium.
In case of rain, JCCHS’s graduation will move to the gymnasium at the same time and date. Tickets are required and each senior receives six tickets.
Clarification: Tickets are not required for JCCHS's graduation at Panther Stadium on Friday. Tickets are only required if graduation must be moved to the gym, in case of rain. Each senior has received 6 tickets in case graduation is moved to the gym.
JHS, however, has established three alternative plans for the ceremony, in case of inclement weather.
The first rain date is set for Saturday, May 25, at 10 a.m. If the weather improves by the afternoon, graduation will be held at 2 p.m. Yet if the weather doesn’t improve until Sunday, May 26, the service will begin at 2 p.m. All three alternative plans will take place at the stadium.
JCCHS’s valedictorian, Lyndie Schimmel, will speak during the ceremony. Her speech is titled, “Seize Life.” Melissa Hayes, salutatiorian, will speak about “Choices.”
Others scheduled to appear during the JCCHS ceremony include:
Allie Allen, senior class vice president, pledge; Stephanie White, senior class treasurer, welcome; Jan Weinberg, scholarship recipients and HOPE scholars; Dr. James Hines Jr., principal, presentation of the senior class; Andy Byers, school system superintendent, awarding of the diplomas; Brittany Bennett, honor graduate, introduction of the senior song; Deanna Allen, Yewpheng Vanchiasong and Lori Zerbe, senior dedication song; Janice Brown, student council president, conferring of diplomas; Julie Griffith, STAR student, closing; Blair Tolbert, honor graduate, introduction of alma mater and Adam Head, honor graduate, moment of silence. The JCCHS ROTC and senior chorus will be at the ceremony as well.
The ceremony will honor JCCHS’s 246 graduating seniors.
JHS will honor its 69 graduates as well.
Ryan Gurley, valedictorian, and Colby Looney, salutatorian, will speak during the JHS graduation ceremony.
STAR student, Amber Norris, will provide the welcoming speech.
Bill Crossan, head teacher at a Campbelltown school in Scotland, will march the senior class into the stadium. JHS has an exchange program with the Scottish school.
As of press time, JHS had not finalized the remaining speakers for Friday’s graduation ceremony.
JHS HONOR GRADUATES
Emily Anne Beckwith, Nate B. Carlson, Adolfo E. Castellanos, Staci Nicole Childress, Lee Atkinson DuBose, Tiffany April Freeman, Vanessa Marie Greenwood, Kendra P. Hibler, Audrey Johnson, Ashley Elizabeth Keith, Chris Kinsey, Danny James McKay, Shunte’ Maurico Moon, Josh Michael Nabors, Amber Rose Norris, Brandi Suzanne Lamb, Lacy Morgan Pass, Kyle Potts, Robin Nadine Roper, Chris Heath Seibert and Jessica Renee Tate.
JCCHS HONOR GRADUATES
Selena Loren Adams, Allson Kelly Allen, Deanna Michelle Allen, Yolanda Charmaine Anderson, Chaka Demarise Armstead Alicia Marie Autry, Jenna Renee Banks, Jessica Lee Banks, Mary Elizabeth Barnes, Brittany Marie Bennett, Tabitha Onita Blalock, Janice Marie Brown, James Bryan Burns, Amber Cathleen Byrd, Nicole Marie Canakis, Amy Estelle Chancey, Russell Wayne Colley, Emily Hannah Covi, Lorinda Anne Cruz, Jennifer Leigh Dailey and Dustin Jake David.
Kristi Renae Denton, Kyle Michael Dondero, Sara Elizabeth Edwards, Gavin Michael Embrick, Michelle Marie Enck, Kristian Ann Fields, Elise Lee Garrard, Jennifer Lynn Gearin, Julie Ann Griffith, Asia Serene Hall, Tiffany Nichole Hall, Melissa Anne Hayes, Adam Tyler Head, Jared William Herrington, Laura Lynne Hill, Brittney Nichole Hogan, Holly Lynn Howington, Adam Colby Dylan Hughes, Teri Breanne Huston, Marti Karyn Lance, Cheng La Lee, Holly Lynn Logue and Brandy Elisha Mayweather.
Scott Alan McIntyre, Steven Fred McIntyre, Cori Leigh Nichols, Kelly Ian Parr, Erica Denise Penny, Clayton Guy Perry, Angela Nichole Pettyjohn, Karla Layne Rainwater, Julian BeRae Roberts, Wanda Louise Sanders, Lyndie Marie Schimmel, Justin Elbert Shadburn, Christina Ann Shaneyfelt, Amanda Jo Sosebee, Robin Ashley Stancil, Laure Pierrette Sweet, Rachel Ashley Thompson, Blair Elizabeth Ann Tolbert, Lauren Newell Waldolf, Stephanie Marie White, Brett Alan Williams, Hank Ray Williams, Valerie Lynn Worley and Kao Lee Yang.


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1 Suspect Guilty, 1 Not In Oct. 21 Murder Of Greg Patrick
A Commerce man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for shooting and killing a man over a $40 drug transaction.
Frankie "Chunk" Burns Jr., 42, was found guilty Tuesday after an hour and a half of deliberations by a Jackson County jury.
He was convicted in the shooting death of James Greg Patrick, 29, Commerce, on Cedar Drive in Commerce in the early morning hours of Oct. 21, 2001.
Judge David Motes sentenced Burns to life in prison without the possibility of parole or probation.
"Mr. Patrick's family will be suffering from the horrible thing you did," Motes said. "The most this court can do is require that you spend the rest of your life incarcerated without the possibility of parole or probation."
The seven-woman, five-man jury found Burn's co-defendant, Nancy Hancock, Commerce, not guilty on felony murder and aggravated assault charges in the case. She was accused of providing Burns with the gun and trench coat he wore when he shot Patrick. She was also accused of getting rid of the gun for Burns after he shot Patrick.
The jury apparently struggled with Hancock's role in the murder because they left deliberations two times with questions for the judge on the legal definitions of her charges and whether accessory after the fact falls under the charges against her.
The judge told the jury that a person may be convicted of party to a crime if they directly committed the crime or intentionally helped the person who committed the crime.
SAID BURNS
WAS 'ENFORCER'
In his opening remarks, district attorney Tim Madison said that Patrick had stolen two rocks of crack cocaine before the shooting from Willie Moon Jr., Commerce, and that Burns was Moon's "enforcer."
"Forty dollars is why this man died," Madison said.
Madison said that the case was about the "dark side of society - people addicted to crack cocaine."
He spoke of Patrick's wife and two young children and how he had battled "the most powerful addiction known to man." Patrick's wife, a special education teacher, also testified about her husband and said he had gone through drug rehabilitation six times. She said he would be fine for more than a year at a time before beginning to use drugs again. She said his drug addiction had been a family secret. She added that the drug treatment only "put a band-aid on a problem."
Madison said that Burns was looking for Patrick the night of the shooting after hearing that he "beat" Moon out of $40. He said that he got the .380 automatic pistol he used in the murder and the gray trench coat that he wore from Hancock. He also said that he gave the gun to Hancock after the murder and told her to get rid of it. He also returned the coat to Hancock and it was entered as evidence in the trial, Madison added. The gun was never recovered.
The district attorney said that when Burns saw Patrick driving on Cedar Drive after 2 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2001, he yelled for him to stop. He said Burns stuck his head in the passenger side door of Patrick's Mustang and continued to argue with him. Madison said two shots were fired, one that went through the car and the one that pierced Patrick's heart and killed him.
Madison's two key witnesses were Michael Rakestraw, Commerce, and his teenage nephew, both of whom testified that they heard the shooting. Rakestraw said that he saw the Mustang slow down and Burns stick his head in the window. He said he heard two shots and saw Burns run away from the area. His nephew also said he heard the two shots. Neither man saw a gun.
Rakestraw also testified that he has prior drug convictions and is on probation. He said that he wasn't promised anything by the district attorney or law enforcement officers for his testimony.
Katie Anderson, Burns' attorney, asked Rakestraw whether he went to the police with the information or whether they contacted him. He said that he didn't give a statement until police contacted him.
Barry King, Hancock's attorney, asked Rakestraw if his client was at the scene when the murder occurred. He said that she was not.
The district attorney also went over the items of evidence found in the car, including a gray button and two shell casings from a .380 gun.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Terry Cooper spoke of his search of the crime scene and said that he believed the button found in the car would be the key to the case. Larry Peterson with the GBI crime lab testified that the button matched a trench coat that Hancock turned over to authorities. Madison said it was this coat that Burns had on when he shot Patrick.
Peterson also testified that fibers from the sweater Burns was wearing when the murder occurred were found inside the trench coat.
GBI agent Jesse Maddox also testified that both shell casings found in the car were .380 automatic. He said Hancock voluntarily gave a statement about the gun and said she had it but got rid of it. Maddox also testified that he and other officers searched Hancock's home and took the gray trench coat with several missing buttons on it.
Shane Rogers, Commerce, told the court that he took a .380 automatic pistol to Hancock's house on Oct. 19 and asked her to sell it for him. He said he fell asleep and when he woke up she was gone and so was his gun. He said he never saw his gun again nor received any money for it. Rogers said he bought the gun for $100 but didn't know the name of the person he bought it from.
Felicia Harris testified that she saw Hancock and Burns at her mother's home on Cedar Drive on Oct. 19 and they had a gun they were trying to sell. She said no one at the residence bought the gun.
Mary Ann Pittman said Burns came to her Woodbine Street, Commerce, residence around 3 a.m. on Oct. 21 and wanted to talk to her husband, who was sleeping. She said he wanted her husband to take him somewhere. Her husband testified that he was asleep and didn't take Burns anywhere. She said that he was sweating and that it was unusual for him to come by their home at that hour.
Madison rested the state's case Tuesday after two hours of testimony. He had also interviewed witnesses for three hours on Monday.
DEFENSE
Anderson and King began presenting their cases at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and had finished by noon. Both asked the judge for a directed verdict, but he denied their motions.
Moon was the first witness called and he admitted that he knew of Patrick and that Patrick had stolen two rocks of crack cocaine from him. He also testified that he saw Patrick's car in the ditch on Oct. 21 and called 911 because he thought he had wrecked. He said that he gave a false name when making the call.
Moon, who also has several prior drug convictions, said he would not shoot someone over a $40 drug deal. He said he would have handled the matter in another way, like "throwing a rock threw his windshield."
Moon denied that Burns is his "enforcer" or that he knew about the shooting. Moon said that he didn't personally tell Burns or Hancock about the drugs being stolen from him, but that he made it known in the community that it had happened.
Cory Redfern, who is now an inmate in the I.W. Davis Detention Center testified that he was with Moon when the drugs were stolen. He said Moon was upset and left the area.
Redfern, who was one mile away from Cedar Drive when the murder occurred, also said that he heard two shots fired about 15 minutes after Moon left.


City Hires Firm To Go After Unpaid Taxes
Company Could Sell Property To Collect Taxes
The Commerce City Council has hired a firm to recover some $200,000 in delinquent property taxes.
In a unanimous vote, the council hired Delinquent Tax Solutions Inc., Snellville, in part because city manager Clarence Bryant liked its aggressive approach to recovering the money.
Bryant told the council that he and city clerk Shirley Willis interviewed two companies and chose DTSI over the other firm because "it is a little more demanding." While the other firm tries to avoid selling property from the courthouse steps, DTSI moves quickly to that point if taxpayers do not pay their bills.
"The philosophy of the firm being a little more aggressive satisfied my mind a little," said Bryant, who noted that the city has already sent several notifications to delinquent taxpayers.
Under the contract, Commerce will receive full payment of delinquent taxes collected, Bryant explained, because state law allows any fees charged by DTSI to be added on to the tax bill.
City attorney John Stell told the council that Barrow County uses DTSI to collect its back taxes.
"They will start advertising the property to sell," he said.
In other action Monday night, the council:
•recognized winners of the "If I Were Mayor" essay contest for sixth graders, including Reuben Haynes, first; Win Blair, second, and Lukas Vickery, third.
•presented a resolution commending the Commerce High School competition cheering squad for its state championship to coach Dianne Cotrell and a resolution to Blake Milford commending him for his state wrestling title.
•signed an intergovernmental agreement with the Downtown Development Authority making it responsible for the management and leasing of the Chamber Building (former city hall). All lease payments will still go to the city.
•accepted the recommendation of Bryant and hired Wilcox and Bivins as city auditors under a two-year contract at $18,000 per year plus $100 per hour for any supplemental work.
•approved the extension of lease/purchase agreements on several pieces of equipment through the Georgia Municipal Association.
•accepted the appointment by mayor Charles Hardy (who was on vacation) of Joel Benton to the Commerce Housing Authority.
•met Larry Floyd, the newest officer on the Commerce Police Department, who was introduced by police chief John Gaissert.
•received a notification from Alltel that the "expanded basic" cable TV service rate will go up $2 per month to $29.50 June 1.
•named Hardy a voting delegate to the Georgia Municipal Association summer convention and named mayor pro tem Archie Chaney as his alternate.


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