Category Archives: Law

Public Facilities Authority, Water tank, dump trucks, VOCA, VAWA, road abandonment @ LCC 2020-10-26

This morning the Lowndes County Commission will discuss abandoning a driveway, er road, a couple of grants for legal purposes, relining a drinking water tank for a fancy subdivision, dump trucks for Public Works, and reappointing Michael Walker, Crawford Powell, and Scott Purvis to the Public Facilities Authority, plus a vacant seat. They will vote Tuesday evening at 5:30 PM.

What does PFA do?

Created via Resolution 05-1130, the general purpose of the authority is declared to be that of providing through the acquisition, construction, installation, renovation, expansion, modification or rehabilitation, any buildings, structure, facilities, improvements, furnishings, fixtures, machinery, equipment and services for the citizens in the county. Members are appointed to three year terms and meet as needed. For more information, contact the Office of the County Clerk, 229-671-2400, or email the County Clerk.

[Map: Road to be Abandoned]
Map: Road to be Abandoned

Cost What
$464,196.00Bid for Four 10-Wheel Dump Trucks for the Public Works Department
$148,000.00Stone Creek Elevated Tank Coating
$17,326.00 Solicitor-General’s Office 2021 VAWA Competitive Application
$6,000.00 Solicitor-General’s VOCA Continuation Grant
$635,522.00Total

How the Abandonment of Artherman Lane can be considered not to affect the budget is mysterious, since Public Works will no longer need to spend to maintain that driveway.

On the Solicitor-General's VOCA Continuation Grant, VOCA is the Victims of Crime Act. The $6,000 cost is health insurance premiums for the two Victim Advocates ($3,000 each).

On the Solicitor-General's Office 2021 VAWA Competitive Application, VAWA is the Violence Against Women Act. The $17,326 is for Cash Match, about $2,000 lower than last time. Lowndes County funnels grant money for five counties, by delegating the District Attorney (DA) to receive and distribute the funds.

Here is the agenda. The board packet is on the LAKE website due to a LAKE open records request. Continue reading

Lift Station Pump, Juvenile Justice Grant, Fees for Web and Telephone Payments, 3 rezonings, 1 withdrawn, 1 lighting, beer @ LCC 2020-10-12

Here is a map of “North Central Lowndes County” which is the area the county wants most to develop with subdivisions. It’s in the board packet materials for Addition to Basic Decorative Street Lighting District – Coventry Villas Subdivision, for last week’s Lowndes County Commission meeting.

[Exhibit B: Basic Decorative; North Central Lowndes County 2; Revised 9/2020]
Exhibit B: Basic Decorative; North Central Lowndes County 2; Revised 9/2020
PDF

This the first table of tax dollar amounts we’ve had add up to a positive total.

Cost What
($1,107,500.64) 2021 LMIG Resurfacing Grant Application
($99,938.00)2020 Addressing Victimization within the Juvenile Justice System Grant Application
$42,067.69 Nelson Hill Lift Station Pump Upgrade
$5.00Approval of Increase in Convenience Fees for Web and Telephone Payments
($1,165,370.95)Total

The real total should be both less than that (the LMIG grant has a 10% match) and more (the $5.00 is times each telephone or online payment).

Here’s a list of what they plan to do with the 2021 LMIG Resurfacing Grant Application: Continue reading

Education, Extension, Prisoners, Fire, Water, Sewer, Nelson Hill, Wages, Taxes, Clerk @ LCC 2020-08-24

A busy agenda for 8:30 AM Monday morning, with voting 5:30 PM Tuesday, includes especially taxes, and alcohol, sewer, twice, education, extension agents, Prison Work Details, and Architectural Services for Lowndes County Fire Station #5 – Bemiss Road Fire Station Alterations and Additions.

[Aerial Map]
Aerial Map for Uncle Carlo’s Italian Ristorante, 1024 Lakes Blvd., Lake Park, GA.

Plus appointment of a new County Clerk, Belinda Lovern, and Deputy Clerk, Sabrina Denson. No posting of the positions is mentioned.

Cost What
$147,954.00Annual Contract Renewal, Georgia Department of Corrections – Prison Work Details
$141,841.00Contract for Extension Agents and Staff
$110,000.00Peterson Road Lift Station Emergency Repair
$44,400.00Architectural Services for Lowndes County Fire Station #5 – Bemiss Road Fire Station Alterations and Additions
$41,840.00Nelson Hill Discharge Manhole
$5,699.35Tax Commissioners’ Back Wage Settlement with Department of Labor
$-32,000.00USDA Building Lease Amendment No. 4
$459,734.35Total

The Lowndes County Commission is Repealing Approvals Authorizing the Tax Commissioner to Waive Penalties and Interest, apparently because of a Tax Commissioners' Back Wage Settlement with Department of Labor.

After last year’s vote of the people to ask the Georgia legislature to make the Tax Assessors appointed, not elected, the legislature did that. Now the County Commission is setting the number of Assessors at three, with initial staggered terms of 3, 4, and 5 years, and after that 3 years for each.

This is after two weeks ago the Lowndes County Commission rolled back the tax millage rate slightly.

Here is the agenda. The entire board packet, together with the Minutes of the meetings of two weeks ago (Work Session, Millage Hearing, and Regular Session) is on LAKE website.

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, AUGUST 24, 2020, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, AUGUST 25, 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

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!

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