Tag Archives: 11 December 2012

Exclusive Franchise for Solid Waste Collection Services @ LCC 2012-12-11

Why did the Lowndes County Commission make this exclusive franchise with a Florida or Alabama or New York company and then sue a local Lowndes County company after the VDT reported the previous spring that any contract would be non-exclusive and wouldn’t put anybody out of business?

Here, obtained by LAKE through an open records request, is the contract with ADS of Middle Georgia, LLC. The the agenda item for the 11 December 2012 Commission meeting at which this contract was approved says ADS of Central Alabama, Inc. The contract says ADS is “a Florida corporation”, and we know ADS is owned by Highstar Capital of New York City. Once again, why is granting a cheap monopoly to an out-of-state company more important than either letting local companies compete for the service or having the county continue to provide a public service directly to its taxpayers and citizens?

The termination clause I pointed out to the Commission after an ADS executive made excuses for nonperformance is Paragraph 18 of the contract:

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Zero owed in 2010; why $8.9 million owed now on county palace? @ LCC 2012-12-11

If Lowndes County owed $0 (zero dollars) on the county palace in November 2010, why are we paying on $8,965,000 in bonds for it in December 2012? If that palace was “100% Paid by SPLOST” in 2010, why in 2012 is the county pledging our property tax dollars to pay those bonds?

Zero balance on the county palace?

In November 2010:

$22,380,000
Judicial Building Cost

$6,728,000
Administrative Building Cost

100%
Paid by SPLOST

$0
Balance Owed

So says a double-page flyer about “the Lowndes County Judicial & Administrative Complex” Flyer from November 2010 produced by the Valdosta Daily Times for Lowndes County in 2010 and signed “Highest regards, Joe Pritchard, County Manager”. There’s no dateline, but it invites the public to a dedication of the Complex “on Friday, November 12, 2010.”

Preliminary Official Statement Dated November 20, 2012 from Morgan Keegan about the $8,965,000 in Refunding Revenue Bonds (Lowndes County Judicial/Administration Complex) Series 2012, which says this:

The Bonds are payable solely from payments to be made by Lowndes County, Georgia (the “County”) pursuant to an Intergovernmental Contract, dated as of December 1, 2012 (the “Contract”), between the Issuer and the County. Under the Contract, the County has agreed to levy and collect an annual tax on all taxable property located within the County as may be necessary to produce in each year revenues which are sufficient to make the payments required by the Contract.

So which is it? Continue reading

Videos @ LCC 2012-12-11

Moody and the Chamber won, rural residents got wasted, and taxpayers still didn't get to see a single thing the Lowndes County Commission voted on last night in 45 minutes (very long for them) in front of the biggest audience I've ever seen there.

They appointed John "Mac" McCall to ZBOA. They revised the alcohol ordinance with some unspecified "changes to the fee schedule", and added another alcohol restriction to the Lake Park rezoning before approving it. They approved the solid waste ordinance and granted a waste collection monopoly to a company from New York City despite all known public input being against it. Two more people spoke against it in Citizens Wishing to Be Heard. Gretchen Quarterman recommended adding all the appointed Boards and Authorities to the county's calendar. Commissioners accepted applicant's withdrawal of the rezoning request near Moody AFB and tabled indefinitely the related zoning code amendment. They approved rezoning for the Naylor Dollar General. Commission approved four Decorative Lighting Special Tax Districts (forgetting it was supposed to be a public hearing), and a refund for one that wasn't. Danny Weeks got approved a new netclock and new phones for the 911 center, and he and his staff got an award. The library railroad continues, the bonds renegotation was approved with about $2 million savings and some legal questions, the Annex has asbestos but they'll deal with it, and after Friday's demolition ceremony there will be a going-away reception for Chairman Paulk, and Bill Slaughter will be the new Chairman. You missed all that and more at yesterday's Commission meeting.

Here's a video playlist of the Regular Session, followed by the agenda with the videos linked into it.

Update 2014-04-09: Fixed embedded video link.

Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 11 December 2012.

For reference here are the videos of yesterday morning's Work Session. And here is the agenda with links to the videos and some notes.

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Why did the county use bonds and not GEFA? @ LCC 2012-12-11

Regarding the refinancing the county is bragging about to save a million dollars, and that they're going to vote on tonight at 5:30 PM, a memory ping reminded me that Hahira got a GEFA loan for $431,777 a water well this August, at zero percent interest during construction, and then 1% during the 20 year repayment period. Is the county's bond deal better than that?

GEFA is the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, and it's not just Hahira that has gotten water project loans through GEFA. According to GEFA PR of 13 May 2011, GEFA Approves Environmental Infrastructure Projects Totaling $60.7 Million for Seven Georgia Communities, just this year others included "Cobb, Cook and Newton Counties; Cusseta-Chattahoochee County; and the cities of College Park, Ludowici and Valdosta."

The city of Valdosta was approved for a CWSRF loan of $18,500,000 to finance phase two of the Mud Creek Water Pollution Control Plant project, which includes increasing capacity from 3.2 million gallons per day (GPD) to 5.7 million GPD, and additional improvements and modifications to the facility. Valdosta will also design a new solids treatment system. The city of Valdosta will pay 3 percent interest on the 20-year loan for $18,500,000.

So why is the County of Lowndes having to float bonds? And are bonds on the commercial bond market really a better financial deal for the county?

For that matter, where's the public notice with agenda of the 4PM meeting today of the Lowndes County Public Facilities Authority?

-jsq

Chamber of Commerce vs. County Commission Re: Moody AFB @ LCC 2012-12-11

Received today (yes, I’m a Chamber member). -jsq

From: “Tim Jones, Chairman of the Board ” <chamber@valdostachamber.com>
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2012 12:47:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Alert: Chamber needs your help to protect Moody!

Dear Chamber Member,

Our Chamber recognizes the $448 million economic impact Moody Air Force Base has on our regional economy each year. We meet with Air Force officials at the Pentagon annually and ask them, “What else can our community do to protect MAFB from the next BRAC?” The answer, every year: prevent encroachment, and the best way to do that is by protecting the Military Activity Zone (MAZ).

Today (Tuesday, Dec. 11) at the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners meeting there are two agenda items that could put Moody at risk.

Spot zoning for a proposed densely settled subdivision in the MAZ is an invitation to other developments and inherently sets a precedent. It’s a very slippery slope. How will the County tell the next one “no”?

The second agenda item would change the zoning ordinance to allow even more densely settled neighborhoods in the MAZ.

One of the reasons we’ve been able to keep MAFB here

for more than 70 years is because MAFB can be utilized for a number of types of missions, largely because of the protected activity zone. Both agenda items, if passed, could increase encroachment into the MAZ and could very well limit MAFB’s future mission possibilities.

Another Georgia community (Warner Robins) is actually using taxpayer dollars to buy back residential properties in their military activity zones as a result of their failure to prevent encroachment.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny this subdivision, and to deny the proposed changes to the MAZ that would allow more dense residential development. The County Commission should vote to deny, too.

The Chamber’s GAC Executive Committee voted unanimously to oppose actions that allow encroachment and weaken the MAZ. The Chamber encourages our members to contact our County Commission members to let them know how you feel about protecting MAFB. The Chamber encourages our members to attend the County Commission meeting at the Dec. 11 meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Administation Building.

Please respond to this email to share your thoughts.

Sincerely,
Tim Jones, Chairman of the Board
Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce

I added the links above. All that Tim Jones said, plus Crawford Powell’s discovery that the proposed subdivision would be a fire code violation, plus according to Forbes Valdosta MSA housing prices are still dropping, so do we even need any more housing, anyway?

-jsq

Privatization: if it’s bad for Moody AFB, it’s bad for county trash collection

Why is Lowndes County Chairman Ashley Paulk decrying alleged privatization of Moody Air Force Base while promoting actual privatization of a basic Lowndes County public service, trash collection?

Jason Shaefer wrote for the VDT 5 December 2012, County disagrees with proposed zoning amendment,

Paulk alleged Moody’s intervention has prevented development before—the establishment of a small schoolhouse within a church near the base, for example, he said. He told the committee that Moody had 30,000 acres to the east on which to build, and that the air base has become “privatized.”

According to the free dictionary:

pri·va·tize: To change (an industry or business, for example) from governmental or public ownership or control to private enterprise:

And yet at the upcoming commission meeting, Chairman Paulk will ask the commissioners to vote on this agenda item:

8.b. Exclusive Franchise Agreement for Residential Solid Waste Collection Services with Advanced Disposal Services of Central Alabama, Inc.

Seems to me that’s a privatization of one of our own county governmental services. Perhaps the commissioners will reconsider the “curbside only by a private firm” path they are on and conduct some public hearings in an effort to understand what the citizens might want in solid waste disposal.

-gretchen

Veolia bought by Advanced Disposal Services of Alabama, owned by Highstar Capital of New York City @ LCC 2012-12-10

Received today on Solid Waste, Developer Favors, Dollar General, Library, and Alcohol: Agenda @ LCC 2012-12-10:

Veolia was acquired by Advanced Disposal, there is no conspiracy theory here or a change of vendor than was previously voted for. http://www.wasterecyclingnews.com/article/20121120/NEWS01/121129990/advanced-disposal-closes-veolia-deal, Continue reading