Tag Archives: Mark Wisenbaker

Videos: Stealth Commission district reapportionment and half million dollar developer giveaway @ LCC 2022-01-25

As expected, the Lowndes County Commission at its Regular Session passed the half million dollar bailout for a developer.

Not expected, they changed the agenda at the beginning of the meeting to approve new Commission district maps and a resolution supporting them, for immediate transmission to the state.

One citizen wishing to be heard spoke about the never ending noise from the 15 month old Arglass factory.

[Amendment, Commissioners, New Districts]
Amendment, Commissioners, New Districts

Developer Bailout

For 5.k. Property Purchase – Building Valdosta, LLC County Manager Paige Dukes said staff acted at the direction of the Commissioners, seeming to distance herself and staff from this action.

Reapportionment

I’m guessing the added agenda item was 5.l..

Vice Chair Joyce Evans, presiding over the meeting in the absence of Chair Bill Slaughter, introduced the agenda change for district reapportionment indicating the Commissioners all already knew this was going to happen. Continue reading

Videos: Valwood award, river gauges, Comprehensive Plan, Alcohol @ LCC Regular 2021-10-25

Update 2021-11-08: Videos: Comprehensive Plan Update Public Hearing 2 @ LCC 2021-10-26.

The County Manager said the Character Area Maps were not changing in the Comprehensive Plan Update, so she expected the Public Hearing Tuesday to be brief, but a quorum would be required. At the end, I thanked the Commissioners for not changing the character area maps and asked them to follow them in future rezonings.

[County Manager, PIO, Valwood Valiants, Character Area Maps]
County Manager, PIO, Valwood Valiants, Character Area Maps

The river gauge funding and the beer and wine license sailed through unanimously. The longest items were the two part Proclamation Presentation to Valwood Valiants Volleyball Team and the County Manager’s Report.

Here are links to each LAKE video of each agenda (and non-agenda) item, with a few notes, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the LAKE videos of the same morning’s Work Session, the agenda, and the board packet which we received in response to a LAKE open records request and put on the LAKE website. Some day the county will put its own board packets on its own website. Continue reading

Videos: River gauges, Lowndes County Extension Office @ LCC Work 2021-10-25

By far the longest item was the informative 7.a. Lowndes County Extension Office Presentation, at the Lownndes County Commission Work Session yesterday morning.

[River Gauges, Beer and Wine, Reports, Extension Agent]
River Gauges, Beer and Wine, Reports, Extension Agent

The river gauges and the beer and wine license took not much longer than to read the agenda items.

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 board packet, received in response to a LAKE open records request and on the LAKE website. Continue reading

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: Maybe revisit lowering millage rate @ LCC 2020-08-10

There was pushback on lowering the millage rate at the Lowndes County Commission Work Session yesterday morning. They will decide this evening at 5:30 PM at the Regular Session.

The Commissioners, like some of the public, also wanted to know when there will be a new County Clerk. Answer, from the former County Clerk, Paige Dukes, who is now the County Manager: not yet; maybe next meeting (two weeks from now).

The $0.9 million low bid from Reames for road paving and a box culvert got no discussion from Commissioners.

The Scruggs Company was offered a special exception to the Comprehensive Plan; one that actually makes sense.

Yes, the Copeland property backs up to PCA.

The Verizon tower got no questions from Commissioners.

Below are links to each LAKE video with a few notes, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the agenda and board packet, and the millage rate hearing at 5PM today (Tuesday).

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

Cities and Lowndes County settle service delivery dispute @ LCC 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-10: Not quite settled. Valdosta still has to agree to it.

These must be golden words indeed, to have been worth the hundreds of thousands of legal fees expended over them:

  1. In regards to water and sewer services:

    The Parties’ current water and sewer service areas are delineated on the service area maps attached to the DCA Forms for water and sewer services approved herewith.

    All existing intergovernmental agreements of the Parties regarding the provision of water and sewer services shall remain in effect.

    Any request for an extraterritorial extension shall be negotiated by the requesting Party and the affected Party. Approval of the affected Party shall not be unreasonably withheld.

The wording is “based on trust,” said Commissioner Clay Griner. “Where’s the document?” responded Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker? “It’s on your ipad,” clarified Chair Bill Slaughter.

As the County Clerk proceeded to hand out paper copies, Griner elaborated:

And it’s all based on trust. It’s us trusting, the County Commission trusting the City Council, whichever municipality it is, to do the right thing. The city council has to trust the County Commission to do the right thing. And the citizens to trust all of us to sit down and do the right thing.

After the county didn’t put anything for the citizens to see on the county website about this Wednesday morning meeting until Continue reading

Videos: Emergency road repair bids! Appointments: Library Board, Development Authority, millage @ LCC 2017-08-22

The added agenda item 6e. Emergency Repairs to Rocky Ford Road got a couple of bids (unusual procedure; different from their usual no-bid emergencies) passed. The Chamber sent Gary Wisenbaker to speak in Citizens Wishing to Be Heard to ask for (after a very long preamble by John Page) apparently money from GDOT for a long list (in a letter the taxpayers did not get to see) of transportation projects to help “the business community”, apparently including the truck bypass.

They only appointed six of the seven members of the Development Authority of Lowndes County, although a Commissioner did ask about that. It’s also curious they said all the terms expired right then, since the Wayback machine has a snapshot of 4 April 2017, which shows three expiring in June 2017 and four already expired in December 2016. Apparently they just didn’t bother to appoint anybody to the four slots that expired in December 2016 until eight months later, and then they didn’t appoint anybody to one of the 2017 slots.

Below are links to Continue reading

Videos: Swearing Commissioners this morning @ LCC 2014-12-19

Here are videos of swearing in the new Commissioners, Commissioners, Mark Wisenbaker (District 3) and Scott Orenstein (District 2), and also the re-elected Commissioner, Demarcus Marshall (District 4), by Senior Superior Court Judge, H. Arthur McLane, at 10 AM this morning, 19 December 2014. Continue reading