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FRONT PAGE - NOVEMBER 10, 1999 - HOMER, GA

NOTICE: Due to Veterans' Day, all of MainStreet's printed editions will be published today, Tuesday, November 9 instead of the normal Wednesday publication date.

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SWEET VICTORY


Banks County's Tony Lacy celebrates after the Leopards upset Jefferson 21-20 in overtime. Banks County had led 20-6 before Jefferson came back to tie the game. The Leopards gained the yards they needed on the next to last play of overtime to win by penetration. For more on the game, see sports.

COMMUNITY

Chick-Fil-A to open Nov. 18 at Banks Crossing
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Chick-Fil-A will open the doors of its new Banks Crossing restaurant on November 18.
On that Thursday, the restaurant will have a "soft" opening at 11 a.m. for lunch and dinner and will open for breakfast the following day, according to store operator Margaret Phillips. The store hours will be from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. six days a week. As always, Chick-Fil-A remains closed on Sunday.
JoAnn Cromer will be the day manager at the Banks Crossing restaurant and Adam Luther will serve as general manager.


Jamieson supports national World War II memorial
State Representative Jeanette Jamieson (D-Toccoa) has announced her support for proposed legislation to honor America's role in winning World War II with a contribution from the state of Georgia toward a national memorial in Washington, D.C.
"This memorial is long overdue and I am proud to honor these veterans who sacrificed their lives in protecting our nation's freedom," said Representative Jamieson. "A generation of Georgians made great contributions in protecting our country and their memories should be recognized appropriately."
Throughout the past year, a campaign featuring Tom Hanks, Bob Dole, who is the national chairman, and others has been raising funds for the memorial. It would be the first national memorial dedicated to all who served in the armed forces and Merchant Marines of the United States during World War II. To date, more than $70 million has been raised toward a $100 million goal with more than $5.5 million coming from contributions by 21 states.
"This memorial will inspire future generations of Americans, deepening their appreciation of what the World War II generation accomplished in securing the freedom and democracy we so deeply cherish," said Rep. Jamieson.
The legislation will be introduced in the January 2000 session of the Georgia legislature. Individuals who wish to contribute to the memorial may call 1-800-639-4WW2 or write to: WWII Memorial, American Battle Monuments Commission, Arlington Courthouse Plaza 2, 2300 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 501, Arlington, Va. 22201.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

BOC tax rate to drop
Banks County's general government tax rate is projected to drop three percent from last year, according to proposed numbers published by the Banks County Board of Commissioners. The millage rate is projected to drop from 7.25 mills to 7.0 mills. The BOC will officially set the rate December 2.
But while the rate is dropping, the actual tax income to the county will be increasing by almost 12 percent. The county's tax digest, the net value of all taxable property in the county, grew by 16 percent over last year, topping $362.2 million. The BOC expects to take in an additional $268,400 despite the lower millage rate.
While the tax rate may have declined, however, individual taxpayers may see an increase in their tax bill if the value of their property went up during the year. The rate also does not reflect any school tax to be levied by the Banks County Board of Education.
The county budget totals $6.3 million and only $2.5 million of that is paid by ad valorem taxes, according to board of commissioners chairman James Dumas.
"The ad valorem tax only funds 39 percent of our budget. The other 61 percent comes from other sources," he said.


BOE budget calls for two-mill increase
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Citing a more costly need to meet the demands of a growing school system and its $14 million budget, the Banks County Board of Education called for an increase in the millage rate at its meeting Monday night.
The BOE approved a 12.4 millage rate.
Board member Bo Garrison called for citizens to answer the challenge of paying for the cost of running a school system.
"I hate to say it, but our taxpayers are going to have to realize that we're a growing system," Garrison said.
Banks County's tax digest was recently released, showing that one mill would yield $364,000. By law, the board must wait at least 15 days before adopting the millage rate. The board will meet Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. to vote on the increase.
After paring down the budget in work sessions in July, the board adopted a $13.7 million budget. After the budget was approved, new teacher hires required to meet a growing student population added more than $250,000 to expenditures. Additional construction costs not included in the budget have also come due. Those extra costs added nearly $130,000.
Since teacher salaries have to be met, and the extra construction costs have already been paid, interim superintendent Deborah White told the board additional funds would be needed.
She presented the board with three options and the required millage rate needed to meet those expenditures. All of the options included paying all teachers' salaries and none, some or all of the construction costs.
After White told the board the system could work under the second option, the board chose to advertise the choice that pays partial construction costs and all of the salaries.
White told the board that mid-term adjustments from the state, which give money based on the number of students served, could be higher than expected and make up the difference.
Board chairman Don Shubert was comfortable that the board is offering as tight a budget as possible to accompany a two-mill increase.
"With a $14 million budget, we're forecasting a $5,000 fund balance," Shubert said. "I don't know many households that would operate on the shoestring budget we have."


BOC recommends homestead exemptions for senior citizens
BY SHERRY LEWIS
The Banks County Board of Commissioners is considering ways to lighten the tax burden for elderly residents on fixed incomes.
The BOC is looking at increasing the homestead exemption for residents over 65 years of age and they are going to ask the board of education to do the same.
"The people who are 65 years or older and living on $500 or $600 a month from Social Security are my concern," said BOC member Ernest Rogers at a meeting Friday. "I would like to see the homestead exemption and the gross income allowance raised or exempt funds from Social Security."
The BOC would increase the homestead exemption for residents over 65 years of age from $12,000 to $18,000 and ask the BOE to increase the exemption in the same category from $10,000 to $18,000. The BOC would also consider raising the gross income requirements from $10,000 to $20,000 or exempt Social Security benefits, at the suggestion of Rogers.
At today's millage rate, that would cost the BOE about $57,000, according to BOC chairman James Dumas, who agreed to draft a letter to the BOE. It would cost the BOC a little less than that.



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