|FRONT PAGE - AUGUST 4, 1999 - HOMER, GA|
off at Hurricane Shoals
Homer, BOC to seek legislation on annexing Banks Crossing
BY ADAM FOUCHE
Legislation prohibiting annexation across county lines without a county's permission is the latest scenario Banks County and Homer officials are looking at as a means to stop Commerce or Jackson County from annexing Banks Crossing.
Banks County and Homer officials attending a meeting Thursday appeared to agree that the best solution would be to seek legislation prohibiting annexation across county lines without a county's permission. Such legislation is being worked on by groups from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) and the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). However, the GMA group has withdrawn its support of the legislation.
The legislation has been rejected by several larger metro-Atlanta cities, mainly because they thrive on annexations across county lines. Dumas stated that an analysis of state annexation being done at the University of Georgia could shed some light on county-line annexations once it is completed.
"We need to keep our eyes open, but I think legislation is the way we need to go with this," Homer council member Sandra Garrison said.
A solution to county-line annexation was proposed by Dumas. He said that prohibiting county-line annexations by cities under a certain population would most likely be agreeable by the bigger metro cities since most of them have large populations.
Dumas said he plans to present his plan to Rep. Jamieson and the ACCG legal council for consideration.
The government officials discussed several other alternatives to handling concerns that Banks Crossing may be annexed by Commerce or Jackson County. And though a lot of information came up at the meeting, both sides agreed that a solution is not in the near future.
"We want to make sure we do this thing right, whatever we do," said Homer mayor Leon Ray. "We want to do this for the citizens of Banks County and we need to look into it further."
The meeting was intended to discuss ways to keep Commerce from annexing Banks Crossing. Should Commerce annex the property, Banks County would lose a valuable part of its tax base, especially the school tax. Both governments walked away from the meeting convinced a lot had been accomplished. They also agreed to have another meeting two or three months later with Rep. Jeanette Jamieson and Sen. Eddie Madden to discuss the matter further.
Several possible solutions were presented at the Thursday meeting. The most obvious solution would be to allow Homer to annex the land. However, BOC chairman James Dumas said such an annexation would cost the county in revenue.
"We could be surrendering around $300,000," Dumas said.
Dumas did say that the two governments could enter a contract that reimburses the county for its lost revenue. However, such a contract could be amended by a future administration, leaving the county providing services to an area it doesn't receive funds from.
Commissioner Ernest Rogers proposed a buffer along the county line be annexed into the city of Homer. The buffer would prevent Commerce from annexing any land across the buffer.
"Our main concern is securing the I-85 area," Rogers said. "We will lose a lot if Homer annexes it all."
Dumas told the group he had sent a map to Rep. Jamieson which showed a 10-foot buffer along the county line in the Banks Crossing area. Such a "spoke annexation" is legal only if authorized by the Georgia Legislature. Yet, a future administration in Homer could choose to annex the land between the buffer and the city of Homer, even if an agreement not to do so had been enacted.
"You never know what the next city administration or county body will do," said Homer fire chief Mack Garrison. "They could amend a contract and mess it up."
To avoid such problems, commissioner Pat Westmoreland spoke of consolidating the Homer and Banks County governments, then annexing Banks Crossing.
"I would like to see us consolidate," Westmoreland said. "I think that with consolidation, the services to people would be more uniform. If we lost Banks Crossing, our property taxes will probably double."
According to Dumas, such a plan might work, but involves a long, drawn-out process that can take up to 10 years to complete, leaving the door open to lose Banks Crossing.
"If it took up to 10 years, it's no solution to the I-85 problem," Dumas said. "Can't we just put up a barbed wire fence around it?"
Consolidation also met opposition from others at the meeting.
"I don't think we want to see that (consolidation) right now," councilwoman S. Garrison said.
M. Garrison said: "Most cities and counties consolidate because one or the other is in financial ruin. I don't see that ruin in Homer or Banks County."
Baldwin officials consider privatizing sewer plant
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Baldwin city officials have voted to look at the feasibility of privatizing its sewer plant.
During a work session on Monday, the council met with Sonny McNeil of the McNeil Group and gave him the go- ahead to conduct the study. On Tuesday, the council had a called meeting to finalize the decision.
The council began looking at privatization as a way to finance the proposed 400,000-gallon sewer system, according to Mayor Mark Reed.
"This could be a way to finance, build, operate and create a funding source to replace our old sewer plant," he said. "This could also improve services and help to operate the sewer system more efficiently."
In other business, the town council:
·agreed to start water department employees at $7.75 an hour. The current starting pay is $7 and the city is having a problem keeping employees, according to councilman Mitchell Gailey.
·discussed bids for a new fire truck.
·discussed a request by Wanda Gunn to replace her mobile home on Baldwin Falls Road. The council asked city attorney David Syfan to check the ordinance to see if that move is legal in a residential district.
·discussed a request by Zeb Loudermilk to put an additional mobile home on West Airport Road.
·agreed not to issue a business license until the water meter is checked to see if it is working properly. In the past, some businesses paid the minimal water charge because of a malfunctioning meter.
Third annual photo contest planned
Do you have a great photograph from your vacation? If so, share it with our readers and maybe win some money in the third annual Banks County News photo contest. The deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26.
Amateur photographers who live in Banks County may send in their favorite travel and vacation photos taken this summer. Winning photographs will be published in a future issue of the newspaper.
There will be two categories: Scenic views and people. A first through third prize will be given in each category. The monetary awards will be as follows: $50, first place; $35, second place; and $25, third place.
Photos must have been made during 1999. No more than one entry per photographer please. The name of the photographer, the date and location where it was made and the names of everyone in the photo should be included.
Photos should be mailed to: Photo Contest, The Banks County News, P.O. Box 908, Jefferson, Ga., 30549. They may also be dropped off at The Banks County News office in Homer. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the photos will be returned. Photos may also be picked up at The Banks County News office in Homer after the contest ends.
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