News from Banks County...

FEBRUARY 5, 2003


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OPINIONS
Angela Gary

Vacation memories warm winter blahs
I stood high atop the Andes Mountains in Chile and looked down into the valleys below. It was peacefully quiet on the deserted mountain-top as I took in the wonder and natural beauty God had created.

Kerri Graffius
The new replaces the old
On Thursday morning, I turned on my radio and began singing to some oldies.
I’m one of those people that will sing aloud in my car—I don’t care if you see me singing along; you can’t hear me anyway. On that morning, I remember singing to “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” By that afternoon, the same radio station was playing a song by Nine Inch Nails commonly called, “I Want to (expletive) You Like An Animal.”


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Region tournament starts early next week for Banks teams
All eyes will likely be on Dawson County this weekend.
The Leopards (10-12, 3-5) need a Dawson loss in one of two games in order to secure a third place finish in the north subregion going into next week’s region tourney. The Tigers are playing Union and Lumpkin.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
BOC takeover move dead?
Senators say no changes will be made without water authority OK
Efforts by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to take over the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority appear to be on life-support, if not already dead.

Columbia remembered
“Well, many, many hours went into this thing, a job well done by the space shuttle team....Thanks to God and his love and grace, America’s still number one in space.”

City Near Accord On Subdivision Annexation
After years of negotiations, it appears that the Commerce City Council is close to beginning the annexation of the Montgomery Shores subdivision.
That issue could be on the table when the city council meets Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Couple badly burned in fire
A Madison County couple was flown by helicopter to Grady Hospital’s burn center in Atlanta early Sunday morning after their mobile home on Hardeman-Morris Road was destroyed by fire.

Beer, wine decision on hold in Comer
Comer’s city council failed to act on a proposed revision of the city’s beer and wine ordinance Tuesday night when a motion to adopt by Jeff Turner failed for lack of a second.

Scientific theory:
Scientist and retired University of Georgia chemistry professor Charles Melton sees diamonds as mini-time capsules that hold secrets to the earth’s past.
As for oil, it comes not from dead dinosaurs, but instead is a naturally-occurring substance like water, which he maintains, is why it is in the earth in such vast quantities and is found primarily along the planet’s fault lines.

Danielsville residents will see $2 increase in monthly garbage fee
Danielsville residents will soon pay $2 more per month for trash pickup.
Citing a strained budget, the city council tentatively passed an increase in garbage collection prices Monday night.

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Illustrating his work

Mark Braught, an illustrator for Harry Potter books and “P is for Peach: A Georgia Alphabet” shows his drawing ability to BCES students.

No separate zip code for Banks Crossing
Even though the intersection of I-85 and Highway 441 has been known for a long time as Banks Crossing, the zip code will remain that of the city of Commerce much to the dismay of the Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“There has been tremendous confusion over finding locations,” said new CVB chairman Craig Armstrong. “I’ve had people call me from downtown Commerce trying to find the dragway. If we could have had this area designated as Banks Crossing, it would eliminate a lot of the problems visitors have in finding the Tanger Outlets and other merchants and restaurants. Commerce is Commerce, but we’re Banks Crossing.”
While Armstrong said he nor the CVB has anything against the city of Commerce, he said that naming the area Banks Crossing and having the proper signage along the interstate and state highways leading to the area would help people find their way.
At last week’s CVB meeting, Armstrong said that having a separate zip code designation for Banks Crossing is not going to happen due to postal regulations.
The problem lies in the regulations set by the United States Postal Service, he added. In order for Banks Crossing to have its own zip code, it would have to incorporate as a town and have a defintive population base, said Armstrong.
CVB president Bonnie Johnson said she and executive director Sherry Ward have been working hard to change the collective minds of the USPS for the past five years.
“We have recently met with four of the top postmasters and they explained the challenges and problems,” she added. “We tried to find loopholes.”
Armstrong said: “The creation of a town is an arduous process.”
Pat Westmorleand, new CVB member and a member of the Banks County Board of Commissioners, agreed.
“It would be difficult to incorporate Banks Crossing because there’s not enough distance between it and the city of Commerce,” he said.
So, what the area merchants, hotels, motels and restaurants are being encouraged to do is place Banks Crossing on return addresses as a notation above the Commerce and zip code line.
“That will begin to distinguish us from the city of Commerce,” Armstrong said. “That way we’re working on multiple fronts to continually reiterate the area as Banks Crossing. By each of us doing this, we can educate the public and get the message across that Banks Crossing exists.”
Johnson added the new seasonal banners, which will be changed out quarterly by the Banks County Fire Department, will have “Welcome to Banks Crossing” on them.
The Pottery and Ryan’s Steakhouse will also note ‘Banks Crossing’ on their marquees.


Home Depot a reality?
The location of a Home Depot store at Banks Crossing could soon become a reality.
A sign company sought permission from the county to build an 80-foot sign at Banks Crossing to advertise the business. The planning commission recommended approval of the variance. The board of commissioners will take a final vote next Tuesday at its meeting.
A man with I.D. Associates, the company requesting the sign variance, made a “hypothetical guess” that the sign would be erected within 90 days of approval and that site work on the nearly 12 acres at Ridgeway Road and Steven B. Tanger Boulevard could begin within the next month.
In other business, the planners:
•tabled a request from Morgan Saxon to rezone 1.73 acres on West County Line Road to M-1 so he can expand his existing cable installation business. The planners anticipate having a conditional use that would apply to Saxon’s situation put into an ordinance soon.
•approved an ordinance amendment changing the subdivision regulations to mandate that any development with 10 lots or over have curb and gutter on its streets. Currently, the requirement applies only to developments with over 25 lots.
•approved an ordinance increasing the amount of bond developers must put up for subdivision roads and strengthening requirements that developers get the roads inspected by a qualified engineer.
•approved an ordinance change on the amount of time a landowner must wait between rezoning applications on the same piece of property after rezoning has been denied by the planning commission. Currently, the county makes property owners wait one year. State law mandates the waiting period be no longer than six months and the county’s ordinance was changed to comply with that.
•heard a preliminary plan from a Gwinnett County man to relocate his home, his daughter’s home and his Model A automobile business to a 12-acre tract off Ridgeway Road. The planning commission members said they didn’t foresee any problems if the man decided to go through with his plans but urged him to talk with the commissioners next week.


Maysville’s Banks County citizens could get tax break; Jackson County may see increase
A recent state Supreme Court ruling concerning tax distributions could divide the citizens of Maysville, right along the county line.
The city council learned Monday night that it may have to eliminate the city tax on the Banks County side and raise the tax on the Jackson County side by a little more than a mill-and-a-half, or about $1.50 per every $1,000 of taxable property value. No vote has been taken on the matter.
The city gets sales tax money from both Banks and Jackson counties. However, Maysville gets a higher allocation from Banks County and receives about twice as much sales tax revenue from there. The city uses the sales tax money to rollback property taxes in both sides of the town, taking some of the burden off property owners.
Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, the city set a higher millage rate in the Banks County side of the city than in the Jackson County side of the city. Then, Maysville used sales tax revenue to roll back the millage rate in both portions of the town. The end result meant both sides of the city paid an equal amount in property taxes.
Last year, all city residents paid a three mill property tax. Maysville residents in Banks County also paid an additional 1.5 mill fire tax. Now, all that could change.
The Court’s ruling mandates that the city set an equal millage rate in both portions of the town before adding in sales tax. Then, the sales tax revenue will roll back the property taxes to a millage rate that may not be equal in both sides of the city. And since more sales tax money comes from Banks County, the citizens on that side of the town will get more of a property tax relief.
Under Maysville’s current proposed budget, which won’t be finalized until Banks County approves its tax digest, the city needs $286,479 to operate. But in order to keep property taxes as low as possible under the new guidelines, the council will likely slice $52,144 out of the proposed budget, leaving a new budget of $234,355.
In order to get that money, the city must collect 8.564 mills of tax from both sides of the town. The city will also take a 1.5 mill fire tax from the Banks County residents in Maysville, a total tax of 10.064 mills there.
Sales tax revenue from Banks County would completely eliminate the total 10.064 mills on that side of the city.
But on the Jackson County side, the town only collects 4.05 mills in sales tax revenue, leaving 4.514 mills for the property owners to pay.
“If this is all we can do, this is what we’ve got to do,” councilman Scott Harper said.
The council expressed concern over the discrepancy in property taxes between the two sides of the town.
However, city attorney Gary Freeman said the town would run into problems if it cut the budget further to reduce the tax in the Jackson County side. Doing so would force the city to send some of its Banks County sales tax revenue back to the state of Georgia.
The city will likely call a work session soon to look at its budget and proposed $52,144 budget cuts. It will also go over the property tax scenarios.
Maysville still waits for the Banks County Board of Commissioners to approve the county’s tax digest before it can finalize its budget and set the town’s millage rate.
The Banks County BOC has the tax digest vote on its agenda for a called meeting Friday morning at 9 a.m. The county will likely approve it at that time.



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Maysville urges groups to adopt a street
The Maysville City Council wants the towns citizens to adopt a street.
The council urged residents Monday to take advantage of the program to get the town’s streets cleaned up before grass cutting season.
Mayor Richard Presley said the city will hand out flyers about the program to local businesses. He also said that anyone interested in the program can call city hall at 652-2274.
In other business, the city:
•tabled action on Jackson County’s animal control ordinance. Before joining the program, the council wants to know how much costs the city will incur. Presley said some of those questions will be answered next month.
•approved Ferguson Enterprises low $2,076 bid for materials to tie houses on Sims Street onto the city’s six-inch water line. The council decided to seek another bid on labor for the project after only one company chose to accept an invitation to bid on the work. The city will accept the low bidder for the labor costs.
•met behind closed doors for 50 minutes to discuss personnel matters. No action was taken nor any discussion made when the council reconvened.