Packet: Moody AFB, Library board, renaming and dedicating roads, two subdivisions, liability insurance @ LCC 2020-07-27

Will it take fifteen minutes, or twenty minutes, to approve almost a million dollars, in a packed agenda for Monday and Tuesday at the Lowndes County Commission? It’s mostly Property & Liability insurance, followed by a consulting contract for a go-between with Moody AFB, plus UPSes for county radio sites.

Cost What
$818,021.00 ACCG IRMA Property & Liability Program Renewal
$96,000.00 Agreement with Cornerstone
$24,257.88 Vertiv Service Contract for the Liebert UPS at the 911 Center & the 4 Tower Sites
$0; past gate name it Harper’s Lane Renaming a Portion of Sara Road
$0 Acceptance of Infrastructure for Brayden Place Subdivision
$938,278.88Total

They’ll also appoint Thomas Lovett to the South Georgia Regional Library Board, rename a road, and accept some subdivision roads.

[Aerial Map: Sara Road Renaming]
Aerial Map: Sara Road Renaming

Received Friday 5:14 PM in response to a LAKE open records request, the board packet is on the LAKE website.

Here is the agenda:

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, JULY 27, 2020, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2020, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

Continue reading

Packet: Budget, MIDS, Rezoning, Clyattstone Road, Mosquito, Law, Fiber Optic, Alcohol @ LCC 2020-07-13

$3,200,415.50 was on the agenda for this week, presumably approved by now by the Lowndes County Commission, in which they also appointed Paige Dukes to succeed Joe Pritchard as Lowndes County Manager.

[Table of Costs (by LAKE)]
Table of Costs (by LAKE)

Cost What
$2,500,000.00 GEFA Loan Application
$289,498.00 Acceptance of FY 2021 Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant
$198,775.00 Fiber Optic to Lowndes EOC
$102,762.00 Judicial System Software Purchase
$45,790.00 Annual Contract Renewal for Mosquito Identification and Testing
$40,000.00 Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Accountability Court Lowndes County DUI Court- State Court
$23,590.50 Approval of Clyattstone Rd.-Simpson Ln. ROW and Easement Purchases (Parcels 26 and 34)
$0.00 Amendment to TPO Agreement FY2021 – Transit
$3,200,415.50Total

That’s 2.6% of the $120 million county annual budget.

Curious that they’re willing to spend $198,775.00 for fast, reliabile, Internet connectivity to their own offices but nothing for the rest of the population of Lowndes County.

I’ve lost track of how much they’ve spent on Clyattstone Road to connect Old US 41 N and Val Del Road to promote development in that area.

I commend the county for the GEFA Loan Application for wastewater utilities projects:

HISTORY, FACTS AND ISSUES: The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority offers funding through the State Revolving Fund. Local governments are able to secure low interest loans to be used for utility projects. Lowndes County has identified several lift station and manhole rehabilitation improvement projects.

The loan can be structured to spread repayment over a period of up to 30 years; however, there is no penalty for paying the loan off early. The proposed interest rate will not exceed 1.94% While the total loan amount is $2,500,000.00 it includes a grant component which allows for forgiveness of up to $625,000.00 of the loan amount. Staff recommends approval of the GEFA Loan Application.

The entire board packet is on the LAKE website. Documents received 12:26 PM, Friday, July 10, 2020, in response to a LAKE open records request. LAKE looks forward to these documents being posted on the county’s own website along with the agenda. Continue reading

Pritchard hands over to Dukes as Lowndes County Manager @ LCC 2020-07-14

On August 1, 2020, Paige Dukes will be the new County Manager, after the 20-year reign of Joe Pritchard.

Paige Dukes, County Clerk, 2011-10-13
Paige Dukes, County Clerk, Lunch and Learn, 2011-10-13

Chris Herbert, Valdosta Daily Times, 14 July 2020, Dukes named Lowndes County Manager,

The vote was a split decision, 3-2, with commissioners Joyce Evans, Clay Griner and Scottie Orenstein voting in favor. Demarcus Marshall and Mark Wisenbaker opposed.

Marshall said his no vote was because he wanted to see the position advertised to open the pool up to other candidates.

“I would expect no less than to have this position advertised,” Marshall said. “To advertise it is saying, ‘we’re not just the good ole boys system or good ole girls system.'”

Wisenbaker said he wanted to see a “fresh” perspective from county leadership and hoped a broader search could provide some new outlooks for the county’s future.

“I voted no because I think the citizens of Lowndes County need to be better represented. We need to advertise this job…There’s nothing personal against Ms. Dukes. She’s been here a while. She does a good job. It’s just being able to look out there and see what we may be missing,” he said. “We got a $120 million budget. That’s not small and we need the right people and the right person to carry this on. And we need fresh ideas. We need a fresh person, in my opinion, that can bring new things to the table.”

Those two were in the minority, however, and the three in support said they are certain Dukes is the right decision.

“I’ve been on this board for six years, and Continue reading

Stick with old budget for now @ LCC 2020-06-26 @ LCC 2020-06-26

The Lowndes County Commission did not pass a new budget, and nobody seems to know or at least be willing to say why, even though that was on the agenda for that Tuesday meeting.

Instead, they’ve scheduled a “Special Called Meeting on Friday, June 26, 200, at 9:00 a.m., to consider a resolution to temporarily continue the operation of the 2020 Fiscal Year budget.”

We don’t have the new draft budget, but here’s the general fund expenditure chart from the old budget they’re extending:

[General Fund Expenditures]
General Fund Expenditures
37.12% + 12.17% = 49.29%

I wonder if this delay has anything to do with sales tax revenues being way down due to the pandemic, and nobody really knowing when they might recover?

There’s no video of the meeting, but fortunately the VDT was on the job. Chris Herbert, Valdosta Daily Times, 24 June 2020, Lowndes County Commission tables 2021 budget, Continue reading

Budget, Bevel Creek Lift Station, Val Tech Road widening, Appointments: ZBOA, Library, VLPRA, Construction @ LCC 2020-06-22

The big item on the Lowndes County Commission agenda for Monday to vote on Tuesday evening is the Adoption of Fiscal Year 2021 Budget totaling $59,443,920, with $22,774,781 or 38% to Public safety, i.e., the Sheriff’s department, including the jail.

[A RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE FISCAL YEAR 2021 OPERATING BUDGET]
A RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE FISCAL YEAR 2021 OPERATING BUDGET
PDF

The board packet is on the LAKE website after we obtained it through an open records request.

Although I hear the hotel/motel tax is down 80% due to virus pandemic, the Hotel/Motel Tax FY 2021 County Budget Budgeted Proceeds are $400,000.00. They are budget to go to:

$171,429.00 Transfer to Lowndes County’s Special Services Fund from which the County funds (i) services the County provides primarily for the benefit of the unincorporated area and
(ii) the County’s share of funding of services the County and one or more municipalities jointly fund

$171,429.00 Transfer to Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center and Tourism Authority
to promote tourism, convention, and trade shows in accordance with the FY 2021 Budget Plan of said Authority for same which is made a part of this Budget Plan

$57,142.00 Transfer to Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority
for capital costs and operating expenses of parks and recreational facilities owned and operated by said Authority

A rare no-match federal grant: Acceptance of FY20 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding brings the total expected expenditures from this Tuesday’s Regular Session down to less than a quarter million dollars:

Cost What
$148,345.58 Val Tech Road Grading, Drainage, Base and Paving
$82,000.00 Bevel Creek Manhole Emergency Repair
$57,300.00 The Modernization/Upgrade of the Elevator in the Governmental Building
($58,008)
in Federal Funding.
There is no local match requirement.
Acceptance of FY20 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding
$229,637.58Total

I commend Lowndes County Utilities for moving ahead to fix the recent manhole collapse at the Bevel Creek Lift Station on GA 376 near Loch Laurel Road. See also Sewer line repair between manholes, Bevel Creek Lift Station @ LCC 2020-06-22.

Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.
Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.

It’s a busy agenda for appointments, to Continue reading

Storm drains, Smart Community Challenge Grant @ VCC 2020-06-11

I give them credit for livestreaming while they work out the kinks in for example better sound.

City Manager Mark Barber is reading questions from citizens. First one is about how to prevent situations like with George Floyd. Second one is about unnecessary use of force, more funding for educators, minimum wage, etc.

[Vcc-facebook-live]
Vcc-facebook-live

Valdosta City Council’s own facebook livestream. Continue reading

Packet: 2 Appointments, 2 Rezonings, Lift Station, Drainage, Facilities @ LCC 2020-06-08

Thanks to Sabrina Denson for sending the board packet Friday. It is on the LAKE website.

The Work Session is this Monday at 8:30 AM, and they vote at the Regular Session 5:30 PM Tuesday.

CostWhat
$71,789.00 Blue Lake Lift Station Emergency Repair
$1,208.80 Approve Condemning ROW and Drainage Easement for Clyattstone Rd.-Simpson Ln. TSPLOST Paving Project
$72,997.8Total

[Zoning Location Map]
Zoning Location Map

See also the agenda.

-jsq

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2 Appointments, 2 Rezonings, Lift Station, Drainage, Facilities @ LCC 2020-06-09

Tuesday at 5:30 PM the Lowndes County Commission proposes to spend about $73,000 on water projects, which is a good thing. Monday at 8:30 AM they also do have a Work Session scheduled.

CostWhat
$71,789.00 Blue Lake Lift Station Emergency Repair Work Session/Regular Session DATE OF MEETING: June 9, 2020
$1,208.80 Approve Condemning ROW and Drainage Easement for Clyattstone Rd.-Simpson Ln. TSPLOST Paving Project
$72,997.8Total

I commend the county for proactively preventing major sewer system leaks. Hm, only one bid?

“HISTORY, FACTS AND ISSUES: The discharge pipes at Blue Lake lift station are leaking due to corrosion. Staff has deemed this an emergency due to the condition of the pipes and the pumps not operating at capacity. A bid was received from RPI Underground Inc. for $71,789.00 to make the necessary repairs to bring the station back to designed capacity and operation. Staff recommends approval of Blue Lake lift station emergency repairs and authorize RPI Underground Inc to make the repairs for $71,789.00.”

The two rezonings that were not previously heard by the Planning Commission (which did not meet last month due to pandemic) are not listed as having any “BUDGET IMPACT”.

[4055 Knights Academy Road location map]
4055 Knights Academy Road location map for Rezoning Case REZ-2020-05 (Districts 1 & 4) Jose Lage, 4055 Knights Academy Rd. R-A to P-D, Well/Septic, ~36.926 acres
Image: Lowndes County Tax Assessors Map.

Also they will (almost certainly) reappoint Andrea Schruijer and Clay Griner to the South Regional Joint Development Authority. And almost certainly they will reappoint Victoria Copeland to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBOA), plus someone else, with no candidates listed. Interestingly, the agenda sheet for ZBOA says “DEPARTMENT: Zoning DEPARTMENT HEAD: JD Dillard” even though the county’s website still says Continue reading

Video: New County Planner, Juvenile Justice, TIA Old US 41, Two Oaks at Bemiss, Hazard Mitigation @ LCC 2020-05-12

Video has appeared on lowndescounty.com of the May 12, 2020 Regular Session, and the minutes. It is 11:48 long, of which 10:48 was actual business. The video reveals there is a new County Planner, J.D. Dillard. We also learn from the video (but not from the minutes) the extent of the Old US 41 widening.

Lowndes County Commission Regular Session 2020-05-12

Below are a few notes with timestamp links into the county’s video. See also the agenda and the board packet. Here again is what they said they spent:

CostWhat
$330,854CJCC Funding FY 2021 Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant Application Regular Session DATE OF MEETING: May 12, 2020
$20,000.00FEMA Lowndes County Hazard Mitigation Request for Proposal Regular Session DATE OF MEETING: May 12, 2020
$350,854Total

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, May 12, 2020, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor
*To comply with the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in regard to the Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic and social distancing, face coverings (masks) are required for all meeting participants.

  1. Call to Order

    At 0 minutes. Chairman and all five Commissioners were present and sitting up front. Staff, including the County Manager, were sitting in the audience, where they could hardly be heard when they spoke. Portable microphones would be useful for this arrangement. Continue reading

Notice: Budget Work Session @ LCC 2020-05-27

This is all we know:

[Notice]
Notice

Date: May 27, 2020

Time: 9:30 AM

Location: Board of Commissioners Administration Building

Address: 327 N. Ashley Street
2nd Floor—Multipurpose Room
Valdosta, GA 31601

Well, we know they never video these budget meetings.

-jsq

Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!