Category Archives: Safety

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

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

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

Videos: Water on private roads, ditches, transparency, Tourism Authority appointment, 3 rezonings, wetlands, solar, UPS, Lake Alapaha water treatment, body cameras @ LCC Regular 2021-08-10

Lowndes County apparently forgot to turn on the audio feed to the media corral in the back of the room during their August 10, 2021, Regular Session. Gretchen noticed during the 811 Day Proclamation and switched to the camera’s microphone, which was better than no audio. They did turn the audio feed back on during the approval of the Minutes.

The Lowndes County Commission has not videoed their own meetings for about a year now, despite authorizing $110,147.78 for Commission Chambers Audio and Visual Upgrade back in April with a report in July of expected total delivery in August. Meanwhile, the City of Valdosta livestreamed all their meetings during the pandemic with an iPhone.

The longest item by far at twelve minutes was 7.b. REZ-2021-12 US 84/I-75 Industrial Park – PD amendment for solar. After Attorney Jack Langdale spoke for, Gretchen Quarterman also spoke for.

REZ-2021-12 PD amendment for solar @ Lowndes County Commission 2021-09-10

Second was 10. Reports – County Manager, which includes some discussion about rural broadband funding.

Plus five Citizens Wishing to Be Heard, two about impassible private dirt roads, two others about drainage problems, and Brad Folsom: citizens request for more transparency.

It didn’t take a crystal ball to predict (as I did) that Wild Adventures Jon Vigue would be appointed to the Valdosta Lowndes Tourism Authority, since the last two appointees were also Wild Adventures GM.

Commissioners approved the 8.b. Alapaha Plantation Water Treatment Pilot Study, but there are murmurings that they are not going to do any subdivision water systems more like that.

Below are links to each LAKE video of each agenda item with a few notes, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the LAKE videos of the preceding Monday morning Work Session, the agenda and the preceding Planning Commission meeting. The board packet, received after a LAKE open records request, is on the LAKE website:
http://www.l-a-k-e.org/govt/loco/2021-08-09–lcc-packet

Videos: Tourism Authority appointment, 3 rezonings, wetlands, solar, UPS, Lake Alapaha water treatment, body cameras @ LCC Work 2021-08-09

The longest item at fourteen and a half minutes was yet more public money to be spent on water for the private Lake Alapaha subdivision next to the Alapaha River, in the Lowndes County Commission Work Session yesterday, Monday morning, August 9, 2021. They vote 5:30 PM this evening, Tuesday evening, August 10. See also The never-ending Lake Alapaha Water Treatment Plant saga @ LCC 2021-08-10.

Lowndes County Commissioner Demarcus Marshall questioning more money for Lake Alapaha Water Treatment

The three rezonings also got 4, 5, and 7 minutes.

It’s an even safer bet they will appoint Wild Adventures General Manager Jonathan Vigue to the Tourism Authority.

Below are links to each LAKE video of each agenda item, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the agenda and the preceding Planning Commission meeting. The board packet, received after a LAKE open records request, is on the LAKE website:
http://www.l-a-k-e.org/govt/loco/2021-08-09–lcc-packet

Tourism Authority appointment, 3 rezonings, wetlands, solar, UPS, Lake Alapaha water treatment, body cameras @ LCC 2021-08-09

Update 2021-08-09: The never-ending Lake Alapaha Water Treatment Plant saga @ LCC 2021-08-10.

The biggest ticket item is yet more public money to be spent on water for the private Lake Alapaha subdivision next to the Alapaha River, in the Lowndes County Commission agenda for Monday morning, August 9, 2021, and voting Tuesday evening, August 10.

On the Tourism Authority appointment, Molly Deese succeeded the previous General Manager of Wild Adventures, so it’s a safe bet that the current GM, Jonathan Vigue, will succeed her on that Authority. But he’s got some competition with Rita Hightower of the Garden Center and The Crescent.

As usual, none of the three rezonings are counted as affecting the county budget, although all three will have long-term effects, two negative because of school buses and Fire and Sheriff Department calls, and one maybe positive because it’s for solar panels: REZ-2021-12 US 84/I-75 Industrial Park ~542 ac., County Utilities, I-S, M-1, M-2 and P-D (Amended).

[The three rezonings]
The three rezonings

Note the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determination that the remaining part of Val Del Villas off Val Del Road is not jurisdictional wetlands, so more houses can be built. Northside Property Development has the same registered agent as Uvalde Land Company that bought the Cherry Creek Mitigation Bank next to the Withlacoochee River and wants to deannex the upland half of it from Valdosta. The uplands in that Bank tract are not jurisdictional wetlands, either.

The other subdivision also involves wetlands, two creeks leading to Bay Branch and the Withlacoochee River, plus at least one retention pond: REZ-2021-09 Building Valdosta Subdivision (0070 018), R-A to R-21, Community Well & Septic, ~64.84 acres.

Cost What
$173,000.00Alapaha Plantation Water Treatment Pilot Study
$102,812.00Purchase of Body Cameras and Dash Cameras for Various Departments
$24,778.59Vertiv Service Contract for the Liebert UPS at the 911 Center & the 4 Tower Sites
$300,590.59Total

The $300 thousand total is a bit apples and oranges, since the cameras are for five years and the UPS is annual.

Here is the agenda. The board packet, received after a LAKE open records request, is on the LAKE website:
http://www.l-a-k-e.org/govt/loco/2021-08-09–lcc-packet

See also the preceding Planning Commission meeting.

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, AUGUST 9, 2021, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2021, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

Continue reading

Videos: Court * 4, Boards * 2, Sewer * 4, Beer, Computers, Pest, Fire, Grounds, Road truck @ LCC 2021-06-21

They spent the most time discussing the several court funding cash match requests, two weeks ago at the Lowndes County (GA) Commission Work Session. At the end, Project Manager Chad McLeod had updates on the Courthouse renovation and the Commission Chambers audio and video restoration.

Judge Golden, Accountability Court

Below are links to each LAKE video of each agenda item, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the agenda. The 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/2021-06-21–lcc-packet 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

Boards * 2, Sewer * 4, Court * 4, Beer, Computers, Pest, Fire, Grounds, Road truck @ LCC 2021-06-21

The biggest item on this week’s Lowndes County Commission agenda, for voting this eventing, is Grounds Maintenance. Planting some native shrubbery, flowers, and trees instead of all that lawn would reduce that cost.

Three sewage system items add up, for Whitewater Lift Station Control Panel Emergency Repair, Bemiss Low Pressure Sewer Main Replacement Change Order, and the $2,500,000.00 GEFA Loan for the Sewer System Rehabilitation Project. That last does not show up in the agenda sheet as BUDGET IMPACT, but county taxpayers will pay for it over time. However, proactive sewer system fixes are lot better than reactive sewage spill repairs.

Four courts in three agenda items require cash match. Plus a road work truck and pest control round out the dollar figures.

Cost What
$158,140.00Bid for Grounds Maintenance for County Buildings
$53,140.00Whitewater Lift Station Control Panel Emergency Repair
$48,307.21Compute and Storage for South Lowndes Data Center
$46,777.50Purchase of Fire Turnout Gear
$39,135.00Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Accountability Court Lowndes County DUI Court Grant Award – State Court
$33,989.00Bemiss Low Pressure Sewer Main Replacement Change Order
$28,074.84Purchase of a Truck for Public Works
$23,557.16Lowndes County Accountability Court Adult Drug Court Program – Grant (Cash Match)
$10,000.00Lowndes County Juvenile Accountability Court – Drug Court Program – Grant (Cash Match)
$6,734.40Bid for Pest Control Service
$447,855.11Total

There’s a reappointment to Children’s Services and a new appointment to the Library Board.

And there’s a beer license, which brings in fees of $250 Off Premises + $150 Administration = $400.

[Beer, Lawns]
Beer, Lawns

Here is the agenda. The 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/2021-06-21–lcc-packet

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2021, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2021, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

Continue reading