The Town of Braselton has approved its budget for FY22.
The town is expecting a 31% increase in its General Fund for the upcoming year.
The city council voted on the budget June 18 in a called meeting.
The town's General Fund, its main governmental fund, is slated to net $7.45 million in revenues in FY22, 31% higher than the town's FY21 budget.
Most of the anticipated revenue increases come from projected higher sales taxes, hotel/motel taxes and alcoholic beverage taxes. Various other franchise fees are also expected to go up in FY22.
Braselton doesn't levy a city property tax.
In expenses, Braselton expects its General Fund to have $5.57 million in expenses, leaving a balance of $1.87 million to go toward debt service and reserves.
Braselton expects to have revenues form its water and sewerage operations of $11 million in FY22, up from $9.5 million budgeted in FY21.
After expenses and debt payments, Braselton expects to net $2.1 million from its water and sewer operations in the year.
In its other funds, Braselton has the following budgets:
• Stormwater Fund: $375,000
• Civic Center Fund: $406,500
• Visitor's Bureau Fund: $2.1 million
• DDA Fund: $130,000
• Urban Redevelopment Agency: $450,000
The Gum Springs Elementary School Relay for Life Team, led by LaShea Branton and Heather Backer, raised over $10,000 this year. The money was raised by selling various items at the district Relay for Life event and through faculty donations collected throughout the year.
The Jackson County Relay for Life event consisted of an auction, and GSES collected the most donations out of the participating teams this year. Several impressive items received high donations, including a guitar signed by Chris Stapleton.
“The Gum Springs Elementary School team is grateful to the community and the staff for all of the donations and efforts that were given for the cause,” said Lisa Ellis, principal at Gum Springs Elementary.
The Jackson County School System has tentative plans to lower its millage rate this fall, but that didn't seem to satisfy a room full of red-shirted protestors at a recent school board meeting who want a bigger tax break for senior citizens.
The Jackson County Board of Education approved a tentative FY22 budget of $96.5 million during its June 14 meeting. That's up from its FY21 budget of $89.8 million. About $40 million of the total will come from local property taxes.
Much of the budget's growth is linked to a rapidly expanding student population and the hiring of additional teachers and other staff.
The budget calls for a millage rate of 18.00 mills, down from 18.39 mills last year. If approved in September, that rate will mark the fourth year in a row the system has lowered its millage rate.
The BOE will hold two public hearings on the final budget and millage rate on Aug. 5, and Sept. 9, and take action on Sept. 13.
The decision is pending the system getting the county's tax digest data, which is currently undergoing appeals and corrections.
Related to that, large reassessments of property across the county has sparked complaints from taxpayers in recent weeks. At a recent meeting of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, citizens complained about the reassessments having gone up, in some cases by double-digits.
At the June 14 Jackson BOE meeting, a crowd of citizens wearing red protest shirts were on hand. Dick Crosby spoke on behalf of the group, calling for the BOE to pressure the board of commissioners to eliminate all property taxes in the county for those over age 65. He said it would "be very simple to get done."
Crosby said the county doesn't give school property tax breaks to senior citizens. However, various homestead exemptions are available to those over age 62, but with income caps to qualify.
Although county officials have tweaked senior citizens exemptions in recent years, they have not greatly expanded the pool of those eligible for the tax breaks. At previous meetings, officials have said the county needs a larger commercial and industrial tax base before it can begin to lower residential taxes for older citizens.
That's especially complex for the Jackson County school system. Much of the county's industrial and commercial growth over the last two decades has been in Jefferson and Commerce where city school systems get those tax dollars.
The county school system has a smaller commercial and industrial tax base and is more reliant on residential and agricultural property for its property tax income. Proportionally, exempting senior citizens from school taxes would harm the county school system more than it would the two city school systems.
Construction at Gum Springs Park in West Jackson continues to progress. Action taken by county leaders this week will help move that project further along.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved a number of items related to the park at its June 21 meeting.
Commissioners approved two change orders with Magnum Contracting, LLC.
The first is for electrical work at the park. Magnum received the contract to complete the first phase of work and the $220,000 change order will allow the company to complete the remaining electrical work.
The second change order will allow Magnum to complete field fencing at the park, totaling $283,000. County manager Kevin Poe said they put the project out to bid twice and didn’t get any responses.
Additionally, the county approved the purchase and installation of playground equipment to Game Time for $209,900. There will be several play areas for different age groups, along with benches, picnic, shading, border and waste receptacles, according to the county report.
In other business Monday, commissioners approved a mid-year salary adjustment for county employees including a 3% increase for public safety and 2% increase for general government employees.
In his report on June 9, county manager Kevin Poe said the adjustment would help the county “to keep salaries competitive with the surrounding government jurisdictions and to keep up with wages in the local labor market.”
The adjustment will be in effect beginning this past April.
The increases will cost the county $450,000 for the current year.
In other business, the board:
•approved purchasing a new ambulance, totaling $80,000.
•approved renewing an intergovernmental agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation to provide inmate detail for maintenance along state highways.
•approved renewing a capacity agreement with the Georgia Department of Corrections to allow state inmates to be housed at the Jackson County Correctional Institute.
•approved a lease from the Jackson County Habitat for Humanity, resulting in $32,784 in revenue for the county annually. Habitat leases a space from the county for its ReStore in Commerce.
•approved three tower and ground lease agreements with Braselton, Jefferson and the Jackson County School System, allowing construction of towers for the new public safety radio system. The 80-by-80 foot pieces of land are located on New Liberty Church Rd. (Braselton); on a practice field at the old high school facility (Jackson County schools); and at Fire Station 12 (Jefferson). The county postponed action on a similar agreement with the Plainview Recreation Board, which requested $6,000 a year from the county, along with additional stipulations.
•approved creating a street light special tax district in the Tanglewood Subdivision.
•approved a move to hold a public hearing in July on the previously approved purchase of 65.45 acres on Pocket Rd. for $700,000 for Tanner Park at Walnut Creek. The public hearing is required because the county plans to pay for the purchase over the course of three years.
•postponed action on the SK Battery project agreement for expansion of facilities until the county can see the completed document.
The board also approved a number of appointments at its meeting, including:
•Patti Knick, Advantage Behavioral Health Community Service Board, 3-year term
•Dennis Marlow, Board of Assessors, 3-year term
•Kenneth Bridges, Board of Assessors, 3-year term
•DeMaris Gurley, Department of Family and Children Services, 5-year term
•Jim Shaw, Northeast Georgia Regional Commission private sector representative, 1-year term
•Kevin Poe, Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, 3-year term
•Dylan Wilbanks, Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, 3-year term
Braselton will hold its Fourth of July Festival and Fireworks on Sunday, July 4, in downtown.
Food and activities kick off at 5 p.m. and will continue through 9:30 p.m.
A patriotic parade will begin at 6 p.m. and travel through downtown. Registration to participate in the parade is open through June 25. Find the registration link on the Celebrate Braselton 4th of July Festival & Fireworks Facebook page.
A free concert with GlowBand will be held on the Town Green following the parade.
The fireworks show will begin at dark.
Braselton and Hoschton have a number of seats up on the ballot in the upcoming Nov. 2 General Municipal Election.
In the Town of Braselton, the mayoral seat is up for election, along with town council seats in district 2 and district 4.
In the City of Hoschton, the mayoral seat is up for election, along with two existing council seats and two additional council seats.
Qualifying details for those seats include:
Qualifying for the Braselton mayoral and council seats will be held Aug. 16-18 at Braselton Town Hall.
The qualifying period opens Monday, Aug. 16, at 8:30 a.m. and closes on Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 4:30 p.m.
Seats up for election and qualifying fees include:
•mayoral seat currently held by Bill Orr, $360. Orr has announced he will not seek re-election.
•town council District 2, currently held by Peggy Slappey, $180.
•town council District 4, currently held by Hardy Johnson, $180.
Qualifying for Hoschton's mayoral seat and four council seats will be held Aug. 16-18 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Hoschton City Hall.
Qualifying fees are $27 for all positions.
Seats up for election include:
•mayor, currently held by Shannon Sell.
•council member, currently held by James Lawson.
•council member, currently held by Tracy Carswell.
•two additional council seats effective July 1 per a change in the town's charter
Some new rules about burning yard waste are slated to go into effect July 1.
Under the new rules, those burning leaves, limbs and other yard debris will no longer have to formally notify the Georgia Forestry Commission in advance.
But those burning debris must now follow new guidelines, including:
• burn sites will have to be 25 ft. from woodlands, fields or other flammable materials.
• burn sites will also have to b 50 ft. away from structures, including homes, outbuildings, sheds and garages.
• all burning will have to be done sunrise to sunset.
• a person will have to attend all fires at all times.
• reasonable precautions will have to be in place, including a pressurized water source (not just buckets), a barrier, available hand tools and weather awareness.
The new rules don't affect the summer burn ban, which remain sin effect from May 1- Sept. 30. Nor do the new rules affect the need for getting a burn permit for commercial agricultural or development burning.
The number of COVID patients remained below 20 at Northeast Georgia Health System over the past week.
On June 21, there were 17 positive COVID patients with three of those at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton. The number of positive COVID patients at NGHS has remained below 20 since May 27, with one exception on June 11 when there were 23 COVID patients.
The numbers have consistently trended downward over the past few months.
Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the hospital has discharged 7,398 COVID patients.
There have been 1,113 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Across the State of Georgia, 42% of residents (about 4.38 million people) have gotten at least one dose and 37% (about 3.81 million people) are fully vaccinated.
In the Braselton four-county area, Barrow County has the lowest vaccination rate with 33% of residents getting at least one dose with 29% fully vaccinated.
Gwinnett County has the highest in the area with 46% having at least one dose and 41% fully vaccinated. This is the first week Gwinnett County has topped the state average in vaccination rates.
In Hall County, 37% of residents have gotten at least one dose with 33% fully vaccinated. And in Jackson County, 35% of residents have gotten at least one dose with 32% fully vaccinated.