Tag Archives: accounting

Tipping fees: no contract, no list of fees, no details of expenses

No copy of the contract for tipping fees from the landfill it privatized some years ago, no list of what those fees were, and no detailed accounting of what they were used for: that was the answer from Lowndes County’s Open Records Officer. She also took more than 3 days to produce this non-information, answering the day after the recent County Commission meeting. Here’s her answer:

2008 CAFR page 38 From: pdukes@lowndescounty.com
Subject: Open records requests
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2013 20:42:16 +0000

Good Afternoon,

In response to your open records requests of June 6, 2013, please find the following:

For the contract or agreement addressing tipping fees, you may contact Regional Commission Representative, Julia ShewChuk, at 229-333-5277. Lowndes County is not the custodian of this information. You many find fee amounts in Lowndes Countys Comprehensive Annual Reports located on the countys website, www.lowndescounty.com. To access these reports, go to the Government tab at the top of the homepage, then County Manager, then Finance, then Financial Reports. Fees are located on page 38 for 2008, page 38 for 2009, page 38 for 2010, page 39 for 2011 and page 36 for 2012.

To be clear, Continue reading

Lowndes County vs. Deep South Sanitation this morning

The county government’s attempt to put a local business out of business is this 9:30 AM at the county palace this morning 14 June 2013.

Physical Address:
Courtroom 5D, Fifth Floor
Lowndes County Judicial Complex
327 N. Ashley Street
Valdosta, GA 31601

WALB’s earlier story said June 4th, but now it’s June 14th (today), because Lowndes County Attorney Walter Elliott is also an attorney for Turner County in the LOST case before the GA Supreme Court, and he was going to be in Atlanta arguing before the Supreme Court on June 4th. Funny how everything is done for the convenience of the county government, and not for its citizens. Maybe we should change that.


A metropolitan area needs better than trash government –John S. Quarterman

My LTE in the VDT Thursday. I’ve added links to some of my inspirations. -jsq

Local leaders worked hard to get the Valdosta Metropolitan Statistical Area declared. Why now are they acting like a Ludowici speed trap for local businesses?

The Lowndes County Commission shouldn’t act like a private business trying to exclude anybody it doesn’t like. State law says local governments are supposed to have open bids and public hearings. A promise (in the VDT) in March 2013 of a non-exclusive contract for trash collection turned into exclusive in October; at least two of the five bidders are now the same company; and the county is suing Applause a local business to the profit of a company owned by investors in New York City. Meanwhile, no public accounting has ever been seen of the former waste collection sites and no public hearing was held before they closed, despite state law.

Business exists to make a profit. Government exists to provide public services like law enforcement, water, sewers, roads, and yes, trash collection. Sure, balanced books are good. But money isn’t the main point of government: providing what the people need is, and the people didn’t ask the county to exchange the waste collection centers for lower prices that won’t last.

Businesses (except monopolies) have to Continue reading

Budget hearing public notices @ LCC 2013-06-05

Yesterday’s County Commission meeting was billed as a Budget Discussion Meeting, and apparently it was not a public hearing on the county’s budget, because state law requires such a hearing to be advertised in the newspaper or published as a news story, a week in advance. This is different from public notice for other Commission meetings: for budget hearings the notice has to be not just sent to the newspaper: it has to be published, and not in the legal notices section, and it has to appear at least a week before the hearing. It’s also illegal to refuse to provide a copy of the submitted draft budget to the public or the news media:

O.C.G.A. 36-81-5.(d) On the day that the proposed budget is submitted to the governing authority for consideration, a copy of the budget shall be placed in a public location which is convenient to the residents of the unit of local government. The governing authority shall make every effort to provide convenient access to the residents during reasonable business hours so as to accord every opportunity to the public to review the budget prior to adoption by the governing authority. A copy of the budget shall also be made available, upon request, to the news media.

LAKE is a news medium, according to federal law.

Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts has Georgia Law on Local Government Budgets: Continue reading

VDT should dig deeper into county trash

The VDT should dig deeper into the finances of Lowndes County trash collection. Nobody has ever seen an accounting of where where the money went for the county’s former waste collection sites, so nobody knows whether the county was really losing money or how much, and the county’s version of how those sites had to be paid for doesn’t match state law.. Sure, Bill Slaughter defending a decision made when Ashley Paulk was chair is amusing, but instead of transcribing what county officials tell it, the VDT could find lots more under the county’s garbage with a little digging.

Jason Schaefer write for the VDT Thursday, Concerns continue over garbage agreement: Business owner argues case against County

The County is not required under Georgia law to issue RFPs to any company for waste disposal services, according to Slaughter. That decision was made in a good-faith effort to find the lowest possible rate for garbage service for the citizens of Lowndes County, he said Tuesday.

Is that the point of county government, to act like Wal-Mart? Is money the only value the county government can name? Everyone I talked to about the trash issue in 2012 who already had a waste collection card said they’d be willing to pay more to keep the sites open. Maybe if the county had held public hearings they would have learned that.

And does anyone believe ADS’s rates are going to stay that low? Look at Wakulla, Florida, where it’s $196/year. But the bigger question is why did the county privatize trash collection anyway?

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Airport Authority says County Commission shorted payment —VDT

The Lowndes County Commission apparently failed to pay the Airport Authority $150,000, yet the City of Valdosta paid their part in full. Once again the VDT did a little investigation and came up with a story.

Brittany D. McClure wrote for the VDT 15 November 2012, Airport Authority chair states County Commission came up short,

Pictures of authority members on the wall at the airport When the Valdosta Regional Airport had hangars built on the property, both the city of Valdosta and Lowndes County pledged $900,000.

According to [Steve] Everett, the city paid their part in full but the county failed to pay $150,000 of the dedicated funds.


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VLCIA land accounting

Chairman Jerry Jennett is asking for an accounting of the land VLCIA has bought using their $3 million a year in dedicated 1 mil property tax and $15 million in bonds that Lowndes County guaranteed for them. And it seems that much of it is in lots too small to be useful.

While the VLCIA board was approving minutes for their 17 May 2011 regular meeting, Chairman Jennett said this:

On the last page, where we’re talking about the industrial park acreage, this is real good the way you’ve presented this, it shows Azalea West 17 acres Lake Park 10, Hahira 10, [?] 165, Miller 220, West Side 155.

Let me ask you that in future you do one more thing. That you tell me how many 100 acre sites you have, how many 50 acre sites you have, and how many 25 acre sites you have,

[Col. Ricketts made some response.]

Then I’m going to assume that everything else is ones, fives, and tens. And my point would be that we track those, and that when someone comes with a project that and they need 200 acres, we can’t do it. But I think there might be room for at least one and maybe two 100s. I think that’s important when we think about people….

It’s good Chairman Jennett is having Col. Ricketts keep track of all this land VLCIA has acquired. He started on this project at Brad Lofton’s last board meeting, when he asked Lofton about lot sizes. I look forward to the results.

Incidentally, while that list Chairman Jennett read does add up Continue reading