Category Archives: Economy

Finances and Okefenokee Swamp @ SGRC 2021-12-09

Here are LAKE videos of (most of) yesterday’s Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC) Council meeting yesterday in Pearson, Georgia.

For some of the items, I have included photographs of the first sheet of the relevant handout(s). For the rest of each handout, please contact SGRC.

Thanks to SGRC Council Chair Joyce Evans and Assistant Director Chris Strom for inviting me to come speak about the Okefenokee Swamp in my other hat as Suwannee Riverkeeper; see the WWALS blog post.

[Collage]
Collage: Audit; New member John Clayton (Nashville); DCA Small Cities Conference; Okefenokee Swamp Resolutions –Suwannee Riverkeeper; Jody Redding, GA Gov. Field Rep.

Here is the complete agenda. Continue reading

Videos: Comprehensive Plan, rezonings, tower, Hospital Authority, elections @ LCC 2021-11-09

All the main items breezed by unanimously, including the Comprehensive Plan and the Hospital Authority re-appointment of Ben Copeland, at the Lowndes County Commission Regular Session, November 9, 2021.

The only things taking longer than three minutes were the County Manager’s Report and Citizens Wishing to Be Heard about how the Board of Elections is appointed and funded.

[Comprehensive Plan, Communications Tower, Manager's Report, Electios]
Comprehensive Plan, Communications Tower, Manager’s Report, Electios

Below are LAKE videos of each agenda item with a few notes, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the LAKE videos of the previous morning’s Work Session, the agenda and Board packet, and, for the rezonings and the tower, the LAKE videos of the preceding Planning Commission meeting.

For the Comprehensive Plan, see also the LAKE videos of the preceding Comprehensive Plan Update Meeting 2 and the Character Area Maps for it, the Lowndes County Commission Regular Session before that, and the quite lengthy first Comprehensive Plan Public Hearing.

Videos: One Valdosta-Lowndes, Troupville River Camp, Hospital Authority re-appointment, Godfrey rezoning, VAWA staffing @ LCC 2021-11-08

By far the longest item at 33 minutes at the Lowndes County Commission Work Session was a presentation about One Valdosta-Lowndes (OVL).

[OVL River Camp, Hospital Authority appointment, Godfrey rezoning, VAWA staffing]
OVL River Camp, Hospital Authority appointment, Godfrey rezoning, VAWA staffing

Second longest at almost five minutes was 8.e. Request For Cash Match Increase For VAWA ASG Salary Supplement, about the Violence Against Women Act. Third at four minutes was 7.c. REZ-2021-24 Barry Godfrey, Mt. Zion Church Road.

The likely re-appointee to the Hospital Authority did attend.

Everything else got little discussion, including the final approval of the Comprehensive Plan Update.

They voted the following Tuesday evening.

Below are LAKE videos of each agenda item, with a few notes, followed by

Comprehensive Plan approval, Hospital Authority re-appointment, 3 small rezonings, AT&T cell tower, Regional Transit, LMIG Restriping, Budget Calendar, Second Harvest, Code Red @ LCC 2021-11-08

The Lowndes County Commission will probably re-appoint Ben Copeland to the Hospital Authority, and approve three rezonings, only one (REZ-2021-24 Barry Godfrey) apparently controversial, as well as an AT&T telecommunications tower, Tuesday evening after hearing them Monday morning.

The item with the biggest effect is the 2021 Comprehensive Plan Adoption.

[REZ-2021-24 Barry Godfrey, Mt. Zion Church Road; TWR-2021-01 CitySwitch II, LLC, Bemiss Road, New 265' Telecommunications Tower]
REZ-2021-24 Barry Godfrey, Mt. Zion Church Road; TWR-2021-01 CitySwitch II, LLC, Bemiss Road, New 265′ Telecommunications Tower

The big ticket near-term item is for roads, 2021 LMIG Safety Action Plan Restriping.

Cost What
$281,529.502021 LMIG Safety Action Plan Restriping
$32,266.00Request for Cash Match Increase for VAWA ASG Salary Supplement
$31,500.00Code Red Annual Renewal
$345,295.50Total

See the agenda. The board packet is on the LAKE website, received in response to a LAKE open records request.

For the Comprehensive Plan, see the LAKE videos of the preceding Comprehensive Plan Update Meeting 2 and the Character Area Maps for it, the Lowndes County Commission Regular Session before that, and the quite lengthy first Comprehensive Plan Public Hearing.

For the rezonings and the telecommunications tower, see also the LAKE videos of the preceding Planning Commission meeting.

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2021, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2021, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

  1. Call to Order Continue reading

Millage Rate Hearing w. new fire millage @ LCC 2021-08-24

With the new 2.5 mil fire millage on unincorporated Lowndes County, property taxes in unincorporated Lowndes County will still be lower than in Valdosta.

The slides, presented by Finance Director Stephanie Black, were informative, although somewhat hard to read on the screen behind the Commissioners. They are not on the county’s website, and also not in the board packet.

Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker asked one question, wanting to know what the total millage would be for residents in the unincorpated parts of the county. Answer: 13.1.

Nobody spoke for or against at the Millage Rate Hearing, so it took less than eleven minutes.

[Slides, Finance, Fire millage, Commission]
Slides, Finance, Fire millage, Commission

The Lowndes County Commission voted in its Regular Session 20 minutes later.

Here is the LAKE video of the Millage Public Hearing. See also Continue reading

Budget Meetings, LCC 2021-06-21

Lowndes County, GA, has a budget Public Hearing today at 5PM, and a Special Called Board of Commissioners Meeting on June 29th to approve the budget. It will include the new fire special tax collection district, the one that is causing tax assessment notices to go out again with corrections.

As usual, the draft budget is not on the Finance Department web page. Probably if you go down to the Commission office and wheedle, they will point you to one bound copy you can look at.

[Two budget meetings]
Two budget meetings

Here is the agenda for today’s budget meeting, which is just before the Continue reading

Subdivisions, quit claim, fire tax district & draft pit, Chambers A/V, deannexation, resurfacing, soccer complex, shooting range shelter @ LCC 2021-04-21 2021-04-12

A couple weeks ago Lowndes County approved almost $3 million dollars in expenditures, including $110,147.78 for Commission Chambers Audio and Visual Upgrade, even though other counties and cities livestream their meetings using an iphone and facebook live.

[Rezoning, quit claim, audio-visual]
Rezoning, quit claim, audio-visual

Cost What
$1,811,758.00North Lowndes Soccer Complex Phase II
$429,634.23Resurfacing of Various County Roads
$304,252.00A New Shooting Range Shelter for the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office
$225,329.00A New 30,000 Gallon Draft Pit for Lowndes County Fire Rescue
$110,147.78Commission Chambers Audio and Visual Upgrade
$2,881,121.01Total

The shooting range was actually not listed as BUDGET IMPACT, but it comes from SPLOST taxes, so I don’t know how it’s not part of the budget.

Not marked as costing anything was the rezoning for REZ-2021-04 Union Station on Union Road, “for a multi-family housing complex to be constructed,” even though that sprawl will cost in sending fire, sheriff, and school busses out there.

Also not counted was Acceptance of Infrastructure for Creekside West Phase 6 & 7 for which “All roads will remain private. Lots will be served by Lowndes County water and sewer.” So if a water or sewer line breaks, the county will have to pay to fix it. And see above about sprawl.

Here is the agenda. The entire board packet is on the LAKE website, received in response to a LAKE open records request.
http://www.l-a-k-e.org/govt/loco/2021-04-21–lcc-packet Continue reading

Two rezonings, contractors for personal property assessments and water tank cleaning @ LCC 2021-03-08

In addition to the big ticket items of $1.5 million approved this week by the Lowndes County Commission, one rezoning will probably actually cost the county nothing, and the other will most likely eat up more tax dollars down the road.

The inexpensive one is REZ-2021-02 on Loch Laurel Road, where Nancy Hobby is returning some land to Estate Agriculture (EA) zoning. The pricey one is REZ-2021-01 Knights Landing Subdivision, Phase 5, where most likely the county will end up paying for road maintenance or fixing utilities or something else down the road, plus fire trucks and school buses.

[Two rezonings and $252,000 for contractor, personal property assessment]
Two rezonings and $252,000 for contractor, personal property assessment

Cost What
$1,322,274.00Tank Maintenance Contract
$252,000.00Deen’s LLC Contract
$1,574,274.00Total

The agenda packet item says that the Deen’s LLC Contract for personal property appraisal costs $84,000, but that is per year, and the contract is for three years, so the real price is $252,000. Continue reading

Retreat at Jekyll Island Club @ LCC 2021-02-25

Lowndes County Commissioners and staff are meeting tomorrow where those pesky taxpayers won’t be “distraction to strategically address community needs and set goals for the next year.”

Tripadvisor says: “A Historic Treasure not just for “Millionaires” of Jekyll Island Club Resort”, with rooms from $207 to $220 per night.

[Cherokee Cottage]
Cherokee Cottage

I do congratulate the newish Lowndes County Public Information Officer for putting out a press release, and for promising a daily “synopsis of discussions” to be posted on the county’s website.

How about a daily video, such as LAKE has posted for several years? Or livestream the meetings via facebook live, YouTube, or Zoom?

Meghan Barwick, Lowndes County Press Release, February 18, 2021, Lowndes County Board of Commissioners Host Annual Planning Meeting,

Lowndes County, Georgia- The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners will hold their annual planning meeting on Jekyll Island February 25-26, 2021 at the Jekyll Island Hotel, Cherokee Cottage, 371 Riverview Dr., Jekyll Island, Georgia. The planning meeting will begin on Thursday, February 25 at 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. and resume Friday, February 26 at 8:30 a.m. wrapping up at 12:00 noon.

The purpose of the annual planning meeting is Continue reading

Roads, Water, and Taxes @ LCC 2021-02-22

Four million dollars in tax money discussed this morning, to be voted on at 5:30 PM tomorrow (Tuesday) by the Lowndes County Commission.

[Table: Four Million Dollars]
Table: Four Million Dollars

Yet their video cameras seem to be broken and I haven’t seen anything about paying to fix them or buy new ones. Meanwhile, Valdosta City Council started online through an iphone, and numerous other counties in Georgia and Florida have made their meetings accessible online.

Cost What
$1,974,139.00Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) Loan Application for the Lake Park Bellville Road Widening Project
$1,875,000.00 Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) Loan Application for Lift Station & Manhole Rehab Project
$219,000.00Approve Purchase of West Savannah Avenue and Briggs Street Properties
$168,880.00Purchase of Wetland and Stream Credits for Old US 41 North Widening Project
$59,500.00Contract with Condrey and Associates, Inc.
$34,024.64Request for the Purchase of Motorola Radios for Public Works
$19,167.00 Approval of the Solicitor General’s VAWA Competitive Grant Award
$10,195.00Approval of Hightower Road and Cooper Road Right of Way Purchases
$6,000.00GMASS Rural Land Maintenance Contract
$339.00Just Compensation – Right of Way Parcel 10 Hightower Road and Cooper Road, TSPLOST Project
$4,366,244.64Total

We don’t know where are the lift stations or manholes to be financed through a GEFA loan for $1,875,000, but I’d say that’s a good use of funds. Not so sure about the $1,974,139 for relocating utilities for widening Lake Park Bellville Road, because I’m not clear on why that road needs widening. I do wonder why sewer and drinking water improvements have to be funded through loans while road building gets tax funds.

Here is the agenda. The board packet is on the LAKE website, received Friday in response to a LAKE Open Records request.

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2021, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2021, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

Continue reading