Category Archives: Internet access speed

Videos: Commissioner Comments, Mud Swamp Road, Fire Millage, Hightower Road, GEFA @ LCC 2021-08-24

Very unusual: two Commissioners commented at the end. Chairman Bill Slaughter had already been quite clear that the new fire department millage was to aid population growth in unincorporated parts of the county. Mark Wisenbaker thought the fire department millage was premature because it did not consider land with no structures, agricultural land, etc. He was the only Commissioner to vote against 5.l. Adoption of Unincorporated Fire Millage. Clay Griner thought it was something they could improve as they go along.

None of them mentioned that the fire millage applies to personal property as well as to real estate (land). At least one of the Commissioners was unaware of this, and, since none of them ever seem to have mentioned it to the public, I’d bet the public is unaware unless they carefully examined their property tax statements. Applying that fire millage also to personal property is apparently how they kept it as low as they announced in the millage rate hearing. Nevermind such a personal property millage falls heaviest on companies with the most personal property, which would likely be Packaging Corporation of America (PCA), commonly known as the paper mill at Clyattville. It’s not clear that companies with much personal property are the most in need of new fire services.

[Hightower Road, Fire Millage, Mud Swamp Road, Commissioner Comments]
Hightower Road, Fire Millage, Mud Swamp Road, Commissioner Comments

The County’s support of unincorporated growth apparently includes building next to wetlands, or in areas the Army Corps of Engineers recently declared not to be wetlands, since that had just been discussed by County Manager Paige Dukes and the Chairman.

I have an idea! How about build only close in to existing services, instead of sprawling farther out, where no taxes will ever pay enough for sending school buses, Sheriff, and Fire. See this report the County commissioned: The Local Government Fiscal Impacts of Land Use in Lowndes County: Revenue and Expenditure Streams by Land Use Category, Jeffrey H. Dorfman, Ph.D., Dorfman Consulting, December 2007. As Dr. Dorfman summarized in a different presentation,

Local governments must ensure balanced growth, as
sprawling residential growth is a certain ticket to fiscal ruin*
* Or at least big tax increases.

sprawl Trees and crops don’t call the Sheriff or the Fire Department much and don’t need school buses, but subdivisions do, so forestry and agriculture are far more cost-effective in tax collection vs. services.

Everything except the Fire Dept. millage passed unanimously. Even the late-added mystery-location 5.j. Proposed Sale of County Real Property to Industrial Authority, which came with no map, no street address, and no parcel numbers.

Here are LAKE videos of each agenda item, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the Continue reading

Videos: Potential litigation, Millage, Hightower Road, Bellsouth, Val Del Estates, 911, Alapaha Plantation, Manhole Emergency, Private Roads, Alcohol * 2 @ LCC Work 2021-08-23

The Lowndes County Commission votes tonight at 5:30 PM, after minimal discussion yesterday morning.

At the end of yesterday morning’s Work Session, County Manager Paige Dukes asked for an Executive Session to discuss pending litigation, plus a bigger than usual room to meet in, due to wanting many department heads there.

Earlier, Chairman Bill Slaughter asked to add an agenda item for sale of real property to the Industrial Authority. There was no discussion of this item, simply the addition of the item to the agenda for the voting session. Apparently all the commissioners know all about this from some executive session. The public knows nothing.

Also, Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker asked to move the two millage adoption items to the end of the agenda for tonight.

The only thing they spent more than two minutes on was 5.h. Adding Dispatch Consoles 11 and 12 for the 911 Center. 5.h. Adding Dispatch Consoles 11 and 12 for the 911 Center

Below are links to each LAKE video of each agenda item, with a few notes, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the agenda and the board packet.

Millage, Hightower Road, Bellsouth, Val Del Estates, 911, Alapaha Plantation, Manhole Emergency, Private Roads, Alcohol * 2 @ LCC 2021-08-23, GA-EPD

Three million dollars for discussion this morning and voting tomorrow evening at the Lowndes County Commission, including an emergency manhole repair, 911 consoles, and roads north of Moody AFB.

Plus more expenses will come from accepting two subdivision roads plus two dirt roads as county roads. And the never-ending Lake Alapaha subdivision water treatment plant, which has attracted a GA-EPD Consent Order.

The County will be reducing the overall millage rate, while adding the the unincorporated fire millage.

Cost What
$2,775,068.91TIA-03 Hightower Road and Cooper Road NE
$162,308.45Whitewater Road Manhole Emergency Repair
$155,697.00Adding Dispatch Consoles 11 and 12 for the 911 Center
$2,520.00Approval of Lease Amendment Number Three to Bellsouth Telecommunications, LLC
$3,095,594.36Total

[Alcohol, Subdivision, Communications]
Alcohol, Subdivision, Communications

Here is the agenda. 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/2021-08-23–lcc-packet

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2021, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2021, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

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

Update: rezonings w. Tiger Creek, whose communications tower? @ LCC 2020-09-08

Here are the answers to these questions from Saturday:

  1. Why is the owner of the planned 300-foot communications tower off US 84 a secret?
  2. Why does the agenda sheet for REZ-2020-11 Bella Mill Plantation, 8450 Ousley Rd., next to Tiger Creek and a short distance upstream from the Withlacoochee River, make no mention of sewage or the size of the septic system relative to the number of expected attendees at the planned event facility?

[Proposed interior sketch]
Proposed interior sketch

  1. TWR 2020-02 is by Diamond Communications and AT&T.
  2. REZ-2020-11: the Department of Public Health determines septic system sizes. That Department won’t issue a septic system permit until they are satisfied.

These answers came from JD Dillard, Lowndes County Planning and Zoning Director. I called him yesterday before the Regular Session Tuesday, and he called back with the answers.

How does the Department of Health determine septic system sizes? Partly by Continue reading

Reappointment to GLPC, three rezonings w. Tiger Creek, whose communications tower? @ LCC 2020-09-07

Update 2020-09-09: Update: rezonings w. Tiger Creek, whose communications tower? @ LCC 2020-09-08

Why is the owner of the planned 300-foot communications tower off US 84 a secret? The Lowndes County Commission will deliberate on that rezoning and three more Monday morning at 8:30 AM and vote on it Tuesday at 5:30 PM, after these rezonings were heard Monday at the Planning Commission.

Why does the agenda sheet for REZ-2020-11 Bella Mill Plantation, 8450 Ousley Rd., next to Tiger Creek and a short distance upstream from the Withlacoochee River, make no mention of sewage or the size of the septic system relative to the number of expected attendees at the planned event facility? Why is there no mention of any speakers against this rezoning, even though there was at least one at the Planning Commission?

[Conceptual Plan]
Conceptual Plan
PDF

In addition to two other rezonings, the County Commission will most likely reappoint Tommy Willis to the Planning Commission.

Here is the agenda. The entire board packet for Monday and Tuesday is on the LAKE website, along with the minutes for the previous meetings two weeks ago, in response to a LAKE open records request. Thanks to new County Clerk Belinda Lovern and Sabrina Denson for speedy responses to such requests.

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

  1. Call to Order Continue reading

Event facility on Tiger Creek, mystery communications tower @ GLPC 2020-08-31

Update 2020-09-05: Added to the LAKE website the files on late arrival Southern Tractor.

Lowndes County and Valdosta will hear several rezoning cases this week that were before the Planning Commission Monday. The County has a a family children partition case, an event center for weddings and such next to Tiger Creek, for which staff recommends four conditions, a 43.8 acre rezoning for Southern Tractor & Outdoors Valdosta Facility, and a 300′ communications tower for an unnamed company.

[Tiger Creek and Parcel 0017 096, Tax Assessors Map]
Tiger Creek and Parcel 0017 096, Tax Assessors Map

The GLPC board packet materials for the Lowndes County cases are on the LAKE website, thanks to new Lowndes County Clerk Belinda Lovern, in response to an open records request from LAKE.

The Lake Park and Hahira cases were already heard this week by their Councils and Mayors.

Here is the agenda. I’ve interpolated the WRPDO Site Map where I’ve got it (the county didn’t send anything for REZ-2020-12), and a Tax Assessors’ map otherwise. 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

Half-way house for ex-offenders, Country Club tower, six Appointments @ VCC 2020-02-10

Postponed from last Thursday due to weather, the Valdosta City Council meets tonight, to consider some rather contentious cases from the Planning Commission, and to make a bunch of appointments, plus some bids for equipment.

CU-2020-02 Natalie Bailey, 4019 Forrest Run Circle - Halfway House @ GLPC 2020-01-27
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, CU-2020-02 Natalie Bailey, 4019 Forrest Run Circle – Halfway House @ GLPC 2020-01-27.

This Valdosta City Council bid item is interesting:

4.d) Consideration of bids for a Trailer-Mounted Mobile Televising Unit for the Utilities Department (Bid No. 27-19-20 A).

Maybe with that Valdosta Utilities can see what’s happening with equipment they leave in a park overnight, for example maybe in McKey Park after today’s 200-gallon sewage spill.

Here is the agenda. It says February 6, but the Valdosta calendar entry for today says “RESCHEDULED – Valdosta City Council Meeting, Monday, February 10, 2020 – 5:30pm” See also Continue reading