News from Madison County...

DECEMBER 15, 2004

Madison County

Madison County

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Frank Gillispie
Elitists are wrong;
God will prevail
There are a small number of elitists in American and elsewhere who are convinced that they have the right, even the responsibility, to control every aspect of our lives. The tool they plan to use to control us is the federal government.

Margie Richards
Five people you meet — on earth

Last week my family and I watched the movie, “Five People You Meet in Heaven,” based on a novel written by Mitch Albom, who also wrote “Tuesdays with Morrie” (which was also made into a movie, starring Jack Lemmon).

Crouse:‘We got after it’
Hustle — it isn’t just something the Raiders coaches preach.
It’s something they put into numbers.
Madison County head coach Steve Crouse has taken to compiling “effort plays” in the team’s stat package as a way of gauging who’s leaving the most out on the floor at the end of the night.

News from
Gillsville town hall to open in former downtown store
The members of the Gillsville City Council will soon have a new home, albeit only temporary.
At last week’s meeting, council members discussed setting up shop in an old historic building, locally known as “Mrs. Ruby’s store.”

Baldwin approves annexation of Habersham Airport Industrial Park
The Baldwin City Council approved a request Monday from the Habersham County Industrial Development Authority to annex a 6.73-acre tract located in the Habersham Airport Industrial Park.

News from
Sheriff’s office pulls out of 911 dispatch system
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office pulled out of the county 911 system this week following the reinstatement of an employee to the department’s radio dispatch.

‘Mess’ Aside, City’s New
Sewer Plant In Operation
Commerce’s new $8.2 million sewer plant is in operation, although construction continues on site and probably will until spring.
The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056

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Leading the ‘toy train’

Ila kindergartner Adam Jones leads the "toy train" at Santa's workshop during the class's Christmas play performance for the Chamber of Commerce during their December coffee hour last week.

Tax bills won’t be mailed in 2004
As digest delay continues, hearing on BOC’s
effort to oust three assessors set for Thurs.
Don’t expect a property tax bill mixed in with your Christmas cards. And no, you won’t get it by the time the big ball drops in New York on New Year’s Eve.
County commissioners will come back from the Christmas holiday Tuesday, Dec. 28, and approve a 2005 budget, even though they are still waiting on this year’s tax digest — or total land value — from the board of assessors.
Even if the commissioners do get a digest before the end of the year, the BOC still must jump through several legal hoops mandated by the state before your tax bills can be issued. For instance, a five-year tax levy history must be advertised. Likewise, state law dictates that any increase in the overall digest must either: 1.) be met with a proportionate rollback of tax rates or, 2.) follow three public hearings to let citizens voice their views on any net increase in taxes.
All tax-levying boards — such as the school board and industrial authority — must meet these public hearing requirements if they choose not to roll back tax rates after a digest increase.
Tax commissioner Louise Watson, whose office has not been involved in the year-long tax conflict (her office is separate from the tax assessors), clarified this week that the bills will not be issued this year. She sent out a press release to let taxpayers know how the digest delay would affect them, reminding property owners that they shouldn’t try to pay their taxes until they get a bill.
“Tax bills will not be mailed until after Jan. 1, 2005,” said Watson. “Sorry that we do not have a digest to apply payments to — we know that this affects you with being able to take as a deduction on your income taxes. The law states we cannot take payments without a digest to apply it to...I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you, but I will get the bills to you as soon as I receive the proper information.”
Watson said that once tax bills are mailed out, property owners will have 60 days to pay.
Up until this week, county tax assessor chairman John Bellew said he felt the tax assessors could complete the appeals process in time for the county to mail out tax bills in 2004. For the rest of the story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

Transfer station fees to increase in Feb.
The cost of disposing your trash at the county landfill will increase in February due to the rising expense of waste disposal on the county government.
County solid waste director Sandra Webb told commissioners Monday that the county landfill (or transfer station) hasn’t raised its fees on county residents in recent years, despite the increased cost of waste disposal services.
But Webb said that with current rates, the transfer station will only recoup about one-third of its operating costs through fees and added that rate increases are now needed.
Webb noted that, in 2002, disposal of a 1,500-gallon tank of leachate cost the transfer station $400. But now it costs $850 to empty the tank. Likewise, she said her department will see a $15,900 increase in hauling fees in 2005.
“Just these two vendors (leachate and hauling) have increased the solid waste budget over $21,300,” said Webb.
County commissioners agreed that rate increases are appropriate and they also agreed to hold off on implementing new rates until Webb has at least a month to educate the public about the changes. She said she plans to pass out flyers to transfer station customers and to advertise in local newspapers to let people know that increases are coming.
Here is a look at what Monday’s action will mean for transfer station customers, beginning Feb. 1:
•Currently, the transfer station charges $.02 per pound with a $2 minimum for garbage disposal that crosses the scale. That rate was changed Monday to $.03 per pound with a $3 minimum.
•The transfer station also has a bag side that does not cross the scale. Currently, up to 12, 30-gallon bags can be dumped at a rate of $.50 per bag. Come February, only eight, 30-gallon bags can be dumped in the refuse trailer. Anything over that limit, must be weighed on the scale.

Eatin’ Eggs talking Issues
Lawmakers discuss state budget at annual Madison County breakfast
The state budget and taxes were paramount on the minds of both lawmakers and audience members at last week’s annual Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues breakfast, held at the Ila Restaurant.
Representatives Tom McCall and Alan Powell, along with senators Brian Kemp and Ralph Hudgens, addressed the budget and several other issues facing the state in the coming year.
Hudgens told the crowd that this is the first time in 134 years that the Republican party has controlled both the Senate and House as well as the governor’s mansion.
During a question and answer session, audience member Jackie Griffin asked all four lawmakers under what conditions they could foresee supporting a state tax increase.
All four said they will not support an increase in taxes.
Powell said the state must address a number of “deeper-rooted problems” involving waste in each state entity before looking at an increase in taxes.
Kemp said he also would not support a tax increase but that he would support independent audits of every state agency to reduce waste.
“There’s one good thing about bad times; it makes everyone look at tightening their belts,” he said.
Hudgens agreed, saying the state needs a “lean, mean government.”
“There is no justification for a tax increase,” he said.
Senator McCall said he would like to see lawmakers “do away with state taxes.”
Hudgens addressed the issue of tort reform and said Senate Bill 5 will attempt to address the matter, such as providing a $250,000 cap on non-economic losses like those for “pain and suffering.”
Hudgens promised that “we are going to pass tort reform in the 2005 general assembly.”
“Insurance costs have skyrocketed,” Hudgens said, adding that it has forced some doctors to close their practices.
Senator Kemp, whose district includes the Hull precinct of Madison County, addressed the “tough choices” on budget cuts, particularly in the areas of education, Medicaid and public safety.
He said that Madison County will be facing a number of its own issues as the county continues to grow, particularly in the area of economic development. “You’ll need to bring jobs here and decide where you want them to go so you can preserve the great quality of life here,” he said.
Kemp is also proud to sponsor an “early learning initiative” to find out how well programs for at-risk children are working.
Representative Alan Powell, the only Democrat on the panel, drew a laugh when he said he awoke on Nov. 3 to find that he was “in the minority now.”
“I’m one of the last of the northeast Georgia Democrats to get elected,” he said. “But I’m going to be just as independent as I’ve ever been; all politics are local and I’m going to take care of the folks I represent.”
Powell said that while he agreed that civil justice litigation reform involving frivolous litigation is a big issue, the budget will be the biggest issue facing lawmakers.
“The number one issue this year is going to be the budget. The budget sets policy in this state,” he said. “...and healthcare is the number one expenditure.”
He said “Medicare is a train out of control” and cited other health care crises, such as the closing of a number of small rural hospitals.
Powell said he is concerned that House leadership is now “metro-based” instead of “rurally-based.”
“I don’t want to see rural issues ignored,” he said.
Senator Tom McCall said he was pleased that he now represents most of Madison County, whereas he only represented a “little dab” previously.
He said he doesn’t feel it is right that Madison County is included in metro-Atlanta air quality statistics.
“It’s not right that you (residents) can’t burn in the summer as rural as it is here,” he said.
He said that he’s proud that Madison County is number five in the state in agriculture and that six of the top 10 counties are located in the northeastern part of the state.

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To read more about the local events in Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school news, see this week's Madison County Journal.

Luminarias set for Sat.
The 20th annual Madison County Luminarias and Live Nativity will be held Saturday, Dec. 18, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Booger Hill and Moon’s Grove roads in Danielsville.
This community tradition features luminarias at approximately 200 homes on a 10-mile route of country roads. There is also a live nativity scene as well as carolers and other Christmas scenes throughout the drive. Inclement weather cancels the event.

Colbert to re-instate city court
Colbert’s City Council voted earlier this month to re-instate the city court. Many city ordinances cannot be enforced by state or county courts, according to city attorney Dale Perry.
Madison County’s Probate Court will continue to handle traffic cases made in the city, but all other city code violations will be handled by the city court. Perry will serve as prosecutor. The council will hire a judge who must be a member of the Georgia Bar and at least 21 years of age.
In other business, additional renovation on the Colbert Depot is being planned. Construction of two new handicapped bathrooms for the meeting hall will be completed within two weeks. A committee of councilmen will explore the possibility of replacing the floor covering in the room.
The Colbert Lions Club has purchased new tables for use in the meeting room. The tables are used for various purposes, including displays and banquets.
The council received a request from a local beautician that the cost of her business license be reduced. She has only four clients, and feels that the $50 annual fee is too high. No action was taken on the request.

Major subdivision scratched from December agenda
A proposed 475-home subdivision will not be considered at the county’s December public hearings, but is expected to be on the agendas of the planning commission and board of commissioners in January.
The proposed development on 400.12 acres on Colbert Grove Church Road and Johnny McLeroy Road will be a major issue for three newly-elected Republican commissioners who will replace three outgoing Democratic commissioners in January.
According to the development proposal submitted to the county zoning office, “Star Home Builders...requests rezoning of the property from A-1 (agricultural) to R-1, Planned Unit Development (PUD)...The subdivision would be served by county water from a line recently installed on Colbert Grove Church Road and would be constructed in three phases over a number of years.”
Notably, the proposed subdivision does not conform to the county’s current land use map. It is neither in the county’s “high density” area nor its “medium density” zone.
But the land use map amendments may be ahead in 2005.
The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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