The tax rate for the county government is going down slightly following action by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners on Sept. 25.
The board rolled the unincorporated rate back by .25 mills and the incorporated rate was rolled back by .1 mills.
The unincorporated rate will be 9.166 mills and the incorporated rate 10.813 mills.
Despite the millage rate cut, the county expects to receive more in property tax revenues than last year due to growth in the county's tax digest.
Highlights of the county's FY2020 budget, which the BOC also approved on Sept. 25, are:
• The county's general fund budget will be $51.4 million and its overall budget of all funds will top $73.3 million.
• The largest single source of income for the county is property taxes, which are expected to be a little over $29 million. Sales taxes are expected to bring in around $8 million and services charges around $11.3 million.
• The largest area of expense for the county is in public safety, which tops $25 million. Within that, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office makes up $7.5 million, the largest single department in the county, followed by the jail at $6.6 million, and EMS at $5.2 million.
• Other major areas of county spending are: Courts at $4.5 million; roads at $3.6 million; correctional institute at $2.9 million; transfer station (waste disposal) at $2.7 million; E911 at $1.8 million; information technology (IT) at $1.5 million; facilities maintenance at $1 million; and property appraisals at $1 million.
• Debt service payments are also a large part of the county's budget at $9.99 million for FY2020. Some of those payments are funded by SPLOST dollars while general fund revenues fund the remainder.
• The county expects to net over $700,000 in FY2020, funds that would be added to the county's reserves. The county projects having over $10 million in unassigned reserves at the end of 2020.
New in the FY2020 budget are:
• A three percent pay hike for all county employees costing $590,000.
• New voting equipment costing around $50,000.
• IT system upgrades costing around $400,000.
• Paving projects costing $1 million.
• 2 new ambulances costing $240,000 each.
• 12 new sheriff's office vehicles at a total cost of $541,000.
• New vehicles for various other departments.
• 12 new employee positions, including two new sheriff's deputies and one new investigator; an additional E911 officer; two new heavy equipment operators for the road department; a mechanic; deputy clerks for the probate court and magistrate court; an administrative assistant for animal control; upgrading three part-time positions to full-time; and both full and part-time positions for the new county agricultural center.
FIRE DISTRICT TAXES
In addition to setting the county's tax rate, the BOC also approved the tax rates levied by the county's various tax districts. Those rates are:
Nicholson 1.5 mills
West Jackson 3.63 mills
Harrisburg 2.0 mills
South Jackson 1.95 mills
Jackson Trail 2.0 mills
North Jackson .7 mills
Maysville 1.8 mills
Arcade 1.64 mills
East Jackson 1.6 mills
Central Jackson 2.12 mills
Jackson County ranked third in the state with the most incoming investments, according to the website SmartAdvisor.
Jackson County ranked third behind Forsyth County and Bryan County in the analysis. The data gave Jackson an investment index of 75.09.
The report calculates the amount of business growth, GDP, building permits and federal funding in a county then assigns a number based on those rankings.
The report said Jackson County had a business growth rate of 8.1 percent and a GDP of $258 million. New building permits were 37.3 per 1,000 homes and federal funding was said to be $7 per capita.
Other nearby counties in the top 10 were Barrow, Oconee and Greene.
Suzanne Owens has officially withdrawn her candidacy for the Hoschton City Council race.
Owens withdrew her candidacy last week.
That leaves three contestants to vie for two Hoschton City Council seats on the Nov. 5 ballot: incumbent Mindi Kiewert, Shantwon Astin and Adam Ledbetter.
The Country Seat Restaurant, a lunch buffet and, perhaps, breakfast, has opened in the former Parham’s Restaurant at the intersection of North Elm St. and Maysville Hwy.
Christina and William Humphries are operating the restaurant.
The buffet is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Breakfast hours, if a local manager is found, will be from 6 to 10 a.m.
Christina said the couple has about 10 years’ experience together in restaurants. They have operated the businesses near Dalton, and in Sonoraville and Calhoun.
They have the Pigskins Barbecue in Danielsville now, she said. It is a take-out option only.
Christina said she has worked in restaurants “all my life.”
The couple opened the buffet because they wanted to get away from the “cook to order” concept, she said.
On Sundays, the restaurant becomes a family operation when her 19-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter help out. Christina also said her sister and brother-in-law, Sonya and Mark, had helped get the restaurant ready to open.
The restaurant opening was delayed because of work on the roof, she said. The strip center, where the restaurant is, was bought in 2018 by Windy McCannon, and her husband, Mark, who has the Edward Jones office, and Doreen Hill, and husband, Clark Hill, the mayor of Commerce. The two couples, operating under the name of Win-Dor Properties bought two strip centers at the intersection of Elm St. and Maysville Hwy, where Parham’s Restaurant and Mary’s Fashion Corner were. They also bought property at the intersection of Washington St. and Ila Rd.
Hearings on recall efforts against two elected officials in Hoschton are being held this week.
Senior Judge David R. Sweat will hear challenges by Hoschton mayor Theresa Kenerly and mayor pro-tem Jim Cleveland on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 9:30 and 11 a.m., respectively. Sweat will decide on the "sufficiency" of recall petitions against the two elected officials.
Those hearings are being held after press time for this week's paper. News from the hearings will be shared on BraseltonNewsTODAY.com and in the Oct. 9 issue of this newspaper.
Kenerly and Cleveland came under fire after Kenerly was accused of pulling an application of a candidate for city administrator because he is black. In a news article, Cleveland defended Kenerly and voiced his opposition to interracial relationships.
Citizens have since packed the Hoschton City Council meetings, calling for their resignations. Multiple ethics complaints have been filed and a recall effort was started earlier this year.
Organizers gathered over 100 signatures against both Kenerly and Cleveland and turned in a recall petition application in early September. The Jackson County Board of Elections verified those signatures a few days later, opening the next round of signature gathering. But that next step was quickly put on hold when Kenerly and Cleveland filed their challenges in the Superior Court of Jackson County.
A proposal to build some storage buildings in South Jackson got shot down by the Jackson County Planning Commission Sept. 26, but the board approved a number of other routine rezonings and several text amendments to the county’s development code.
All the board’s recommendations will go to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners for final action.
A proposal to rezone eight acres at 2567 Brock Rd. (at the corner of Hwy. 129 across from Southside Church) from A-2 to CRC and for a special use permit for storage buildings was recommended for denial by the planning board. Upset by the reluctance of the county to rezone the property, owner Tommy Boyd said he would build a “hog parlor” on the property since it was zoned agricultural.
The board recommended approval of four text amendments to the county’s codes, including:
• making 75 percent of green space or open space requirements contiguous.
• reducing the number of parking spaces needed to qualify for compact parking.
• adopting regulations for small 5G cell towers on county rights-of-way.
• adopting regulations for private inspections.
Among the rezonings recommended for approval by the board on Sept. 26 were:
• 2.3 acres at 5799 Mayssville Rd. from A-2 to CRC (commercial).
• 1.5 acres and 1.99 acres at 1529 Whitehall School Rd. from A-2 to MH and A-2 to AR.
• 13.69 acres at 2424 Gum Springs Rd. from PCFD to A-2.
• 10 acres at Hwy. 82 South from A-R to A-2.
• .456 acres at 8940 Old Gainesville Hwy. from A-2 to CRC.
• a map amendment for 6.51 acres at Hwy. 124 in Jefferson from rural to suburban and residential to commercial.
The jockeying for someone to replace retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson has begun as potential candidates make their application for appointment to Gov. Brian Kemp.
That list of applications includes at least one Jackson County man. Adam Fouche of Commerce is among those who have tendered their application to replace Sen. Isakson with the governor's office.
Fouche is a graduate of Commerce High School and the University of Georgia. He is currently a captain and bureau commander with the UGA Police Department.
Prior to entering law enforcement in 2004, Fouche was a reporter and photographer for Mainstreet Newspapers for several years.
Among the reported front-runners to replace Isakson is Rep. Doug Collins whose Congressional district covers Jackson County. Collins is a key ally of President Donald Trump in the U.S. House where he serves on the Judiciary Committee as the ranking minority member.
Gov. Kemp has not set a timeline for when he will announce his appointment. Sen. Isakson is set to step down at the end of the year due to health concerns.