News from Banks County...

JANUARY 8, 2003


Banks County
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OPINIONS

Angela Gary
It’s easier to be a student today
“Get Tips for Science Projects Here”
I couldn’t believe it when I logged onto the Internet and saw this advertisement pop up. All students today have to do is go to the Internet to find project ideas, themes of complex books and any number of other things that I used to spend hours working on.

Jana Adams
Heroics in my childhood kitchen
I don’t cook that often, and when I do, it is usually the very basic stuff that doesn’t take too much time, doesn’t require too many ingredients that demand a special, and invariably expensive, trip to the grocery store and that doesn’t make too much of a mess — again, the time factor.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Banks headed into slew of subregion opponents
Momentum may be key for Banks County in its next few games.
Both teams are coming off good runs over the Christmas break and will look to carry that momentum into a few solid subregion wins.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
BOC moves to take over water authority
In its boldest move yet to tighten its control over county operations, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to seek legislation this year to take over the day-to-day operations of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority.

City Finds Impact Fees Looking Desirable
Encouraged by an article in Monday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Commerce officials are once again enamored with charging impact fees to developers of new subdivisions.

Board acts to change airport authority
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed Monday night to seek legislation to change the terms and make-up of the county airport authority. The terms would be one-year and would be one from each district and one at-large member.

Beshara seeks Jefferson support for second site study
But city would have to agree to support final outcome
Commissioner Emil Beshara wants an architect’s opinions on whether or not some 200 acres owned by Jack Davidson on Hwy. 129 or the Darnell Road property already purchased by the county would be better suited for a new Jackson County courthouse.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Jail expansion won’t be on 2003 SPLOST
ail expansion won’t be one of the projects proposed on the 2003 sales tax referendum.

Danielsville hires second police officer
Danielsville doubled its police force Monday evening, hiring Marlin Carithers as an additional full time police officer after a 20 minute closed session to discuss the matter.

Construction crew expects jail to be done in April
The new county jail was expected to be completed in 2001, then in 2002.
Now, in 2003, after many months of inactivity and legal wrangling, construction of the new jail is nearing the finish line.

Madison County gov’t develops web site
Want to see the minutes of the most recent commissioners’ meeting, or see listings for available county government jobs, or look at historical Madison County maps?

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Fought fire from within

Banks County firefighters brought an early morning blaze at a home on Carson Road under control by a direct interior attack on the source. A neighbor noticed smoke coming from the rear of the home and called 911.

Fire guts Carson Road home
More than the sun lit up the early morning sky Tuesday as a small brick ranch home at 426 Carson Road caught fire.
No one was at home at the time of the fire.
A neighbor called 911 when smoke was noticed coming from the rear of the home, said fire officials.
Firefighters from Banks County District 3 joined with Franklin County’s Bold Springs station to extinguish the blaze.
The fire is still under investigation, but preliminary reports indicate the wall heater in the bathroom may have been the initial source of combustion, according to fire officials.
Captain Richard Crowder said the home was about 20-percent involved when the first crews arrived on the scene. Flames engulfed the back of the home and penetrated the roof.
“Our guys did a great job in knocking this out before it could consume the entire house,” Crowder said. “The firefighters from Bold Springs were a great help.”
The home, owned by Bonnie Ashworth, had been rented to Warren and Beverly Wilson.
The family dog was curled up just outside the back door. Their cat was also found unhurt.
The American Red Cross arrived on the scene shortly after the fire was contained to assist the family.


County tax bills going up
Citing revenue shortfalls and a lack of growth, the Banks County Board of Commissioners voted Friday to proceed with a proposed tax increase.
The BOC approved a tax rate hike of 1.11 mills. The total millage rate, excluding the school tax, will be 8.096 mills, the highest level in at least five years.
For every piece of property with a net assessed value of $40,000, the increase will translate into a $44 raise in taxes.
The commissioners stressed that the millage rate has been rolled back every year since 1999.
“No commissioner likes to raise the millage rate but we were put in office to do the county’s business,” BOC chairman Kenneth Brady said. “Somebody has got to do it. It’s not going to happen by itself.”
The BOC must now hold a series of public hearings before final approval of the rate increase. Hearings are planned for January 16 at 9 a.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse conference room. The board also has a hearing set for January 23 at 6:30 p.m. before voting on the hike at 7 p.m. that night.
Brady explained that the increase, roughly $400,000 in increased revenue, was needed to make up for lost revenue in an already lean budget. With the economy suffering and tourist-based business experiencing decreased income, he said the only way to pay for county services was with a millage rate hike.
Brady added that the county had seen a decrease in mobile home and large equipment values and had not gotten much increase in commercial and industrial property, which kept the tax digest from rising much over last year.
“If the overall value of the county goes up, we’ll have some growth in the tax base and we can roll back the rate if the budget doesn’t go up next year,” he said. “But I’m not for a huge amount of growth. I’d rather pay the taxes.”
Brady also said all but four county departments have budgeted an increase in expenditures due to rising insurance costs and an employee pay raise commissioners approved last year, putting a strain on the budget.
“I would like input from the public on whether citizens want to reduce services,” Brady said. “But I always hear ‘I want.’ When you say ‘I want,’ that costs.”
Commissioner Pat Westmoreland, who made the motion to raise the rate, said he wasn’t happy about the increase and issued an early challenge to the county’s department heads.
“When looking into the next budget year, I want for the department heads to cut five percent off their budgets,” he said. “They’ve got plenty of time to work on that now. We’ve got to tighten the belt a little tighter and shave off some of the excess.”
Once the BOC votes to set the final millage rate later this month, the tax commissioners office will be able to send the tax digest to the state for approval. After the state overlooks it, the county will begin sending out tax bills.
The county has until February 1 to forward the digest to the state, unless it files for an extension. Banks County’s tax commissioners office got one extension from the state because the digest was already late due to problems finding a qualified assessor earlier this year to fill a vacancy.


BOE approves proposed millage rate reduction
County taxpayers could see a reduction in their school taxes this year.
The school board approved a proposed millage rate decrease from 12.3 mills to 12.25 mills.
Since the county’s tax digest increased this year, superintendent Deborah White said the board had to rollback the rate or be forced to hold public hearings on an increase.
The school board has set a special called meeting for Friday, January 17, at 5 p.m. to vote on final approval of the millage rate reduction.
White said the board could roll the rate back even more.
However, several board members expressed concerns that doing so could leave the school system short on cash when more projected state budget cuts hit this spring.
“We could go down to 12 mills and still collect the amount in our proposed budget,” White said. “But we probably haven’t seen all the state cuts yet.”



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Ramsey defends residency status
Answering accusations that he doesn’t live in the district he represents, newly-elected district 3 school board member Ben Ramsey said he’s been in that district for two years.
A letter in last week’s Banks County News questioned whether or not Ramsey lived in a home on Hwy. 51. Ramsey said he purchased the home in question at 2463 Hwy. 51 S. in June last year. He now lives at the home he said.
However, Ramsey said he had been living next door at 2447 Hwy. 51 S. for the previous two years, which would put him in compliance with any residency requirements.
Ramsey also said the matter of his residency status was challenged after the August Republican primary. Election superintendent Judge Betty Thomas said no formal objection was filed, however, she was approached about the matter.
Since no official investigation was requested, Judge Thomas said she did briefly look into the matter and was told Ramsey lived in the district.
Judge Thomas also said that Ramsey did vote in the Maysville district because he has not changed his voter registration information. In November, she said Ramsey did list 2463 Hwy. 51 S. as his residence on a voter certificate.
Ramsey asked anyone with any questions about his residency status to call him at (706) 340-1201.


Former Alto mayor Stewart dies
Former Alto Mayor Grover Lee Stewart, 77, died Sunday, January 5, at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, following a brief illness.
Stewart was a former councilman and mayor of Alto for many years. He was also a U.S. Army veteran, serving in World War II where he was wounded and awarded three Purple Hearts.