Category Archives: Economy

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

Packet: Clyattstone Road rezoning yet again, Decorative lighting, Transportation, Alcohol, Taxes, Law, Cybersecurity, Pandemic @ LCC 2021-01-25

After discussion Monday morning, on Tuesday evening the Lowndes County Commission will approve spending $2 million tax dollars, mostly in $1.6 million on Lake Park Bellville Road, including relocating water and sewer lines. There’s another $90,000 on Hightower Road and Cooper Road NE, Right of Way Purchases.

Cost What
$1,655,975.00Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Contract Item Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding Lake Park Bellville Road
$280,193.75FY 2020 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant Application
$90,670.31Approval of Hightower Road and Cooper Road NE, Right of Way Purchases
$29,400.00Cybersecurity Maturity Tier 1
$12,500.00Agreement with SGRC to Develop 2021 Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan Update
$20,000.00FY 2020 Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Grant (to be fully reimbursed)
$2,068,739.06Total

REZ-2020-20 Ballyntyne 6712 Clyattstone Road is back yet again, this time probably to be improved. The agenda sheet says no cost for that rezoning, but remember last time we added up more than $3 million the county has already spent on Clyattstone Road and water and sewer infrastructure.

The least expensive item with dollars listed is FY 2020 Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Grant, because it will be fully reimbursed.

Also inexpensive and probably cost-effective is Agreement with SGRC to Develop 2021 Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan Update.

[Subdivisions in northwest Lowndes County, GA]
Subdivisions in northwest Lowndes County, GA

Listed at no cost to the county is Addition to Basic Decorative Street Lighting District – Creekside West, Ph. 6 & 7 and Val Del Villas, which includes maps of subdivisions in northwest Lowndes County, allowing you to see the extent of sprawl so far in that direction.

The board packet is on the LAKE website, received Friday in response to a LAKE open records request.
http://www.l-a-k-e.org/govt/loco/2021-01-25–lcc-packet/

We look forward to board packets being on the county’s own website along with the agenda.

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2021, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2021, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

Continue reading

COVID-19, Ballyntyne Subdivision, County expenses for Hightower Road, Sewer, Moody AFB, Fire Pumper @ LCC 2021-01-11

The agenda sheet for rezoning REZ-2020-20 Ballyntyne (back again from last month) claims no budget impact, but that ignores the many thousands of county tax dollars already spent on Clyattstone Road, as well as followup maintenance of roads, sewer, and water, not to mention School Board expenses for sending buses, as well as Fire Department and Sheriff Department expenses whenever called.

[WRPDO Site Map]
WRPDO Site Map

This is what I’ve found the Lowndes County Commission has already spent on Clyattstone Road, and I may have missed some.

Cost What When
$1,681,770.84Grading, Drainage, Base, and Paving of Clyattstone Road and Simpson Lane. 2020-09-21
$1,417,333.98Clyattstone Water Main Extension 2020-09-21
$43,245.50 The stated ROW cost in the agenda 2020-02-24
$23,590.50 Approval of Clyattstone Rd.-Simpson Ln. ROW and Easement Purchases (Parcels 26 and 34) 2020-07-14
$20,000.00 For wetland credits acquisition 2020-04-28.
$11,535.00 and the other stated ROW cost in the agenda
$2,916.00 Up to that amount for an acre of drainage for Simpson Lane 2020-04-16.
$1,085.00 Approve Purchasing ROW and Drainage Easement for Clyattstone Rd.-Simpson Ln. TSPLOST Paving Project 2020-05-27
$3,201,476.82 County tax dollars so far spent on Clyattstone Road

So that’s more than $3 million tax dollars the county has already spent subsidizing subdivision developers on Clyattstone Road, before getting into maintenance and later School Board and Fire and Sheriff Department expenses. Remember that when somebody says public transportation has to be subsidized.

Here are the expenses acknowledged in agenda sheets for this coming week’s Commission meetings:

Cost What
$351,115.00Bid for a Pumper for the Fire Department
$315,557.58Approval of Railroad Agreement for Hightower Road Project
$96,556.75Low Pressure Sewer Force Main Upgrade on Old Bemiss and Bemiss Knights Academy Road
$28,000.75Approval of Hightower Road and Cooper Road NE, Right of Way Purchases
$2,500.00Moody Water Treatment Plant Emergency Repair
$793,730.08Total

The board packet, received in response to a LAKE open records request, is on the LAKE website:
http://www.l-a-k-e.org/govt/loco/2021-01-11–lcc-packet

Here is the agenda.

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2021, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

Continue reading

Tax Assessors appointed, sworn in, Lowndes County, Georgia 2020-01-05

After many years of rising sentiment, the voters in November 2019, approved changing Lowndes County from being one of only two of 159 Georgia counties that elected its Tax Assessors to appointing them, and the legislature agreed. Finally in September 2020 the Lowndes County Commission appointed three new Assessors, and on January 5, 2021, they were sworn in. Their first official meeting is tomorrow.

[Vote, Swearing, Judge, Assessors]
Vote, Swearing, Judge, Assessors

Applying for the Board of Tax Assessors according to the agenda for the 21 September, 2020, Work Session and the Tuesday, 22 September Regular Session were Mr. Gene Felts and Mrs. Gretchen Quarterman. The Tuesday voting was a bit more complicated. Continue reading

Solar power is beating fracked methane like the Internet won over BITNET

Why am I so sure that I will live to see fracked methane pipelines shut down, along with their tar sands and petroleum partners in crime? Because I’ve seen it before, a quarter century ago, when the Internet won over all other networks, including BITNET.

BITNET in the U.S. and Worldwide and the Internet, Matrix News 4.10 October 1994
BITNET in the U.S. and Worldwide and the Internet, in Matrix News 4.10 October 1994.

The exponential growth of the Internet sucked users away from all the other networks. Coal is already crashing so fast that cleaning up coal ash is the biggest issue. Nukes are closing left and right. “Natural” gas is still growing, but not as fast as solar and wind, which produced more new electricity than any other source in 2020. Soon, fracked methane will peak, and then it will fall fast, just like coal did. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Solar, wind, batteries and other storage will continue to soar until almost all electricity comes from them. A cleaner world, with profit for those who buy in, and lower power charges for everyone: it’s coming fast.

Vote for clean energy and help it arrive faster.

Remember FidoNet? Probably you’ve never heard of it, and this is why. Remember BITNET? Maybe not, but one of its neologisms lingers on: Continue reading