The big item was they passed the Resolution to support GA HR 158 for dedicated fee collections. That and the T-SPLOST projects and upcoming public meetings, by Mayor Gayle. There was only one Citizen to Be Heard, which was me, about the resolution and about public access to the Withlacoochee River at Gornto Road in Valdosta.
Below are links to the LAKE video of each item, with a few notes, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the agenda.
VDT reporter Thomas Lynn
Video. Reporter for the official organ of the area.
- Council members
- VDT reporter again
Can you see that clock? –Mayor Gayle
Video. He couldn’t see it, but George Boston Rhynes could, and it was time to start the meeting.
1. Call to Order, Invocation, Pledge
Video. Well, I didn’t get the camera turned on fast enough, but you know how these parts go.
Recognition of Leadership Lowndes
Video. Quite a passel of Leadership Lowndes folks, presumably some of these ones. Yes, he called the names of Miguel Vicente and Pamela Perry. Somebody whose name I can’t catch and Nikki Stewart spoke up.
- 2. Minutes Approval
3.a. Resolution to support GA HR 158 for dedicated fee collections
Sure, as the Mayor said, this is House Bill 158, which is being introduced by our good friend Jay Powell from Camilla. This is an effort to redirect some fees and taxes that have been diverted to the general fund by the government. I believe the Valdosta Daily Times had a great story this morning on it, the example being the tires and the dollar fee for scrapping those tires. That’s been redirected.
Presumably he was referring to Jill Nolin, VDT, Jan 24, 2018, Lawmaker: State should not ‘bait, switch’ fee use,
ATLANTA — Every time someone buys a new tire in Georgia, a $1 fee is tacked onto the bill.
The revenue from that fee is supposed to go toward hauling off the piles of old tires that accumulate in rivers, along country roads and elsewhere in the state, as well as cleaning up other environmental hazards.
Or at least that’s what state lawmakers said — and put into state code — when they created the fee back in the 1990s.
But in reality, about 41 percent of the $154 million collected has ended up in the state’s general fund during the more than two decades motorists have been paying the fee.
For example, the tire amnesty that Lowndes County Public Works Director Robin Cumbus said was very successful last Mondahy morning (5,000 tires collected, many mosquitos left without breeding areas) came from a GA-EPD grant she discussed May 8, 2017, and, if I’m not mistaken, that grant comes from the Georgia Scrap Tire Abatement Reimbursement Program, which is funded by the Solid Waste Trust Fund, from which upwards of $50 million has been diverted to other purposes, as mentioned in a WHEREAS in the resolution on these local agendas.
Back to Mark Barber:
So this is some effort…. Again to receive some of those fees and taxes back as the coffers of the city as opposed to the general fund.
Council Sonny Vickers asked: We don’t receive any of that back?
Barber: It’s hard to tell…. This is a great start. I still think it’s going to lack some for being able to tell that we are beginning to receive that. It’s going to go into a bank to be held. It can’t receive more than one percent of the budget of the state for the prior year, and it’s going to be distributed from there, so. Right now we can’t really tell what we’re getting from the Department of Revenue.
Council Sonny Vickers remarked: It’s a runaround, then.
Mayor John Gayle: The state’s been using most of that money. I’ll give you an example I read today. There was $16 million collected from the Hazardous Waste Fund. And the state only put $4 million out of that. They put the rest into the general fund and used it for other things. There’s a backlog of 65 toxic waste dumps in the state.
Council Tim Carroll: There’s a firestorm across the state. I read today that more and more cities and counties are adopting this resolution and supporting HR 158. And I just can not imagine any state representative voting against this when it hits the floor. Because they’re going to have some explaining to do.
Mayor John Gayle: They really are And GMA [Georgia Municipal Association] has also endorsed it.
Council Carroll made the motion, Council Vickers seconded, and they all voted aye. See also Thomas Lynn, VDT, 26 January 2018, City supports dedicated fee bill.
- 4.a. Bids for a four-wheel drive rubber tire backhoe for Engineering Dept
- 4.b. Bids for new tactical equipment for Police Tactical Operations Unit.
5. CTBH, Thanks for Resolution against GA fee diversions –John S. Quarterman
Video. Thanks to George Boston Rhynes for pointing the LAKE camera towards me, as I said:
I want to thank y’all for passing that first item on the agenda. I believe Commissioner Carroll mentioned it’s been passed in a bunch of other places. Nearby the ones I know of are Lanier County [2018-01-08], the City of Adel [2018-01-16], Atkinson County [2018-01-18], Lowndes County [2018-01-23], and it’s on the agenda for Hahira next week. Although of course, you are the largest city to pass it in the immediate vicinity.
I wonder how all those local governments got this resolution? And just in time for the annual Bird Supper, at which elected officials and staff from Valdosta, Lowndes County, and Hahira feed quail and conversation to state legislators in Atlanta at the Railroad Depot, 5PM, Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Tickets are $50 each. I will be in Tallahassee, but I’m sure our local government officials can more than adequately express their opinions on HR 158.
- 5. CTBH, Withlacoochee River access, Gornto Rd –John S. Quarterman
- 6. City Manager’s Report –Mark Barber
- 7. Council Comments, Compliments to the Staff –Tim Carroll
- 7. Mayor Comments
- 7. Compliments to Eric Howard on basketball program –Mayor Gayle
7. T-SPLOST projects and upcoming public meetings –Mayor Gayle
Video. The Mayor said “we” (he’s the Chair of the regional T-SPLOST roundtable Executive Committee) finalized the regional T-SPLOST project list, and said there are public meetings 4-6PM Monday January 29, 2018, in Pearson and 10AM-6PM Tuesday, January 30, 2018, in Valdosta.
You know, the big thing about this is this is a jobs deal. $406 million in this region for jobs for projects that will create so many jobs. I hope we can finalize that list on the 13th and then it will be presented to the Board of Elections and it will be on the May 22nd ballot. Once we finalize it, I will get y’all a copy of all the projects.
Council Sonny Vickers: Mr. Mayor, I understand we can use some of the funds for transportation, for busses. That’s true. And the good thing about it, Sonny, is we also have a discretionary fund, which we can use any way we please. Now these projects that have been approved already, they are mostly roads, bridges, streets, and all of that. The … 25% discretionary fund that we receive, we don’t have to list those projects. Those are up to us.
And then also now, see, there will be another several million dollars, because we are paying a 30% match right now because we did not approve this thing in 2012. If we approve it this time, it will reduce our match from 30% to 10%. So that will create more money to use.
Council Vivian Miller-Cody wanted to know if the meeting Tuesday was only for elected officials.
Mayor Gayle: No, that’s a public comment period. Anybody can go, make any comments you would like.
Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Tooley wanted to know where.
Mayor Gayle: At the Regional Commission office.
All the details of when and where are in a separate post, including the current draft project list.
- 8. Adjournment
- George Boston Rhynes surveys the room
Here’s a LAKE video playlist:
Videos: Passed resolution for dedicated state fees and bids for equipment
Regular Session, Valdosta City Council (VCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 25 January 2018.
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