|News from Jackson County...||
SEPTEMBER 1, 2004
1998 Building Permits
Go to Banks County
Panthers, Red Raiders to renew rivalry Friday
Jefferson looking for 3-0 start Friday at Lumpkin Co.
County employee seeks $1.2 million in lawsuit
BOC hears complaints from veterinarians, park owner
No tax hike, BOE says
County BOE does not project general tax increase
The Jackson County Board of Education is not proposing a tax hike for its FY2005 general operating budget. The board plans to fund its $55.4 million budget by using $1.9 million of reserve funds and by keeping in place cutbacks made over the past two years.
The current millage rate is 18.5 mills and county leaders plan to leave it at that rate for another year. At earlier meetings, county superintendent Andy Byers feared the millage rate might reach the maximum allowed of 20 mills.
The general tax rate is used for operations and maintenance, but not for new construction. The BOE has called for a $70 million bond referendum Sept. 21 to pay for the construction of several new schools and the expansion of other existing schools. That bond package would be paid for by an additional 2.9 mills.
The county BOE will discuss the proposed budget and tax rates at a work session set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 9, at the board office in Jefferson.
The budget will also be discussed at the regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 13, in the media center at the county high school.
Wait for new BOC, Walker proposes
JCWSA chair says water, sewer shared services completion should wait until Jan.
The chairman of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority has asked that all negotiations between the county and cities pertaining to shared services for water and sewer be discontinued until January when the new board of commissioners take office.
Warren Walker appeared before county and city officials at a shared service committee meeting Thursday to speak over some cities, including Arcade, being given a portion of the countys water service area. The county water and sewerage authority has already agreed in a 2-1 vote to file a lawsuit against the county and cities over this matter.
The new shared service agreement, which has already been approved by eight towns, gives Arcade a shared water distribution service district.
With what youve proposed, the water board will go bankrupt, Walker said.
BOC chairman Harold Fletcher responded: Thats speculation.
The BOC is set to approve the agreement at a called meeting this week and the Maysville City Council will approve it at its Sept. 13 meeting.
Walker asked to speak at the committee meeting to address this matter and was placed at the end of the agenda. He read a prepared statement and there was no public discussion on his concerns. Nicholson mayor Ronnie Maxwell did ask how the county and cities could be assured that the vote for the lawsuit came from a consensus of the authority since there is some dispute as to who is actually on the board and only two of those at the meeting voted in favor of the action. No other public officials commented on Walkers request.
Walker said the BOC has been trying for some time to take over and control the county water authority and that the shared service agreement is part of that effort.
The board of commissioners has now embarked upon a mission to take away large portions of existing service delivery territory from the authority in order to give it to various municipalities, Walker said. Some of this territory includes the authoritys water lines and tanks already existing.
He added that the authority has been frozen out of the latest deliberations to update the shared service agreement between the county and cities. Walker said that by leaving the authority out of the negotiations, the county has violated the Service Delivery Act.
By law, Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority must be a participating governing body to any re-negotiations, otherwise, the procedure is flawed and any subsequent agreement would be subject to challenge. The BOCs actions in giving away Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority service territory for water and sewer creates duplication of services which is the very problem the Service Delivery Act was enacted to prevent.
The committee met for almost one hour to make several amendments to the shared service agreement, including one allowing for exchanges of service territory. This amendment includes the following: Allow service area map updates from time to time to accommodate two party service area exchanges and clarifications. All changes will be submitted to the county clerks office for record retention.
Other minor changes were made in regards to animal control and libraries. The eight towns which have already approved the shared service agreements will vote on the changes at their September meetings.
SPLOST meeting set Fri.
Leaders to discuss details of Nov. 2 vote
A long-anticipated meeting between county and city leaders on a proposed special purpose local option sales tax vote will be held at noon on Friday, Sept. 3, at the grand jury room in the new courthouse.
The meeting will start the clock on calling for a Nov. 2 SPLOST referendum, a large part of which will be used to make note payments on the new courthouse.
Sources also indicate that the remainder of the SPLOST will be heavily geared toward recreation and fire departments in the county.
But the countys towns would also get a share of the SPLOST, presumably based on population. Each town could decide for itself how the sales tax would be used within its jurisdiction.
DA forwards GBI investigation of Britt on to attorney general
District attorney Tim Madison has forwarded the Georgia Bureau of Investigation report on allegations that commissioner Stacey Britt stole water from the county on to the state attorney general for review.
I forwarded it to the attorney generals office and asked them to review it themselves or to appoint an independent prosecutor to make a decision about what, if anything, they were going to do, Madison said. My office would have the same conflict as Stan (Evans) did.
Britt was billed $4,320 to cover the water he allegedly stole from the county water and sewerage authority, which includes a penalty for tampering with the line and a charge for replacing a meter.
No action on Wilhite Road subdivision
Planners postpone decision; neighbors oppose proposal
No action was taken on a request from a Lawrenceville man seeking a land use map change to locate a 65-home subdivision on his 68 acres on Wilhite Road. And some concerns were aired at the Jackson County Planning Commission meeting Thursday night over whether one member should vote.
Only three members of the planning commission were present for the meeting with two being absent. Commission member Don Segraves led the meeting in the absence of chairman Wayne Wilbanks.
The postponed request came from Larry Titshaw, who asked for a land use map amendment from Rural Places to Residential Growth Areas for property located on Wilhite Road.
Attorney Wanda David spoke on his behalf. She questioned whether Segraves would be voting on the request since his wife and two daughters signed a petition against the development and he lives in the area. Segraves at first was going to vote, but decided against it at the recommendation of planning director B.R. White.
I dont have an attorney here telling me I can or cant, Segraves said. I dont have any monetary value in it. I am kin to people who do have monetary value.
This left only two voting members and three votes are needed for a motion to be approved and move forward.
While no vote was to be taken, the planning commission moved forward with the hearing and heard from David and those who oppose the development.
David said the area should be designated as residential growth because public water is available. She added that the land use plan says over and over that growth should be in an area where services are available.
By your own very definition, you are required to look at this as a residential growth. It clearly says it...I dont think these people would like it there was a mobile home park there as it is currently zoned. But under its current land use plan, it can be done.
Segraves and David argued for several minutes on whether the road can handle the additional traffic the subdivision would bring. Segraves said the county engineer agreed it with him a meeting in 2003 that the road was not suitable, due to a sharp curve, for that much additional traffic.
Well, obviously he failed to put that in writing, David said.
David added that the staff report from the road department at that time approved the plans.
I dont want to argue with you any more, Segraves said.
David responded: Youve already done that.
Later in the meeting, Segraves apologized to David for his comments.
Gilbert Wier is among those who spoke in opposition to the request. He presented a petition with the names of 98 people who oppose the development.
We are against this going to a residential growth area for the simple reason they are putting 65 lots on 68 acres, he said.
Ruby Lynn Minish said she is concerned about the extra traffic the development would bring to Wilhite Road. She also pointed out that it is an agricultural area.
Remember, the chicken houses are a livelihood, she said. ...It this healthy for our community. Think about it. Many people will be affected if this subdivision is built. A few might get rich, but at what cost to the community... Please, lets not become another Gwinnett County. Lets keep Jackson County a place where you can continue to be proud of. As a life-long citizen of this county, Im counting on each of you to consider the consequences of taking away agricultural property.
In her rebuttal comments, David said there has been a change in the traffic flow due to the new courthouse being located in the area.
There has been a change since the land use plan. The change is the courthouse. There is a change in the traffic flow. There is more movement there...Water is here...When water came through, growth was behind it...Growth will follow those corridors of water...Thats where you need to put your growth. Otherwise, you will have sprawl everywhere, and that was the whole point of the land use plan.
The request will again be on the agenda at the planning commission meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23, at the Administration Building in Jefferson.
Old Mt. Vernon Mills Building Being Purchased For Use As Warehouse
One of the most historically significant buildings in Commerce is getting a second life.
The Pottery is using the 350,000-square-foot Mt. Vernon Mills building as a warehouse and envisions any number of creative uses for the historic structure in the years to come.
We are in the process of purchasing it. We should be done in the next two weeks, said Sandy Spurlock, general manager of The Pottery.
There are two major portions, the original Harmony Grove Mills building and another building across Walnut Street, which Spurlock says makes the better warehouse.
At some point, the old mill may have more potential than a warehouse, he observed. It could be anything from shopping areas to loft-type apartments and restaurants. There is a lot of character and potential in those buildings.
By purchasing the mill property, The Pottery was able to consolidate its storage from leased facilities and cut down on transportation costs, Spurlock said.
Mt. Vernon Mills has been removing the equipment, some of which it took to other locations and some of which it sold.
Those barrels you see out there now, those are theirs, Spurlock pointed out.
Theres a lot of character in that old mill. It goes back to the 1800s. They added on and added on. Its got a lot of potential for something else than a warehouse, he said.
For now though, it will be a warehouse. With a million square feet of retail, wholesale and nursery space at Banks Crossing, The Pottery needs plenty of storage for 500-600 containers it imports every year, mostly through Savannah.
IDA waiting to hear from BOC on bond financing