Tag Archives: Mark Wisenbaker

Videos: Hurricane assistance, Golf carts, mental health, wetland credits, regional transit, Lift Station and Fire Station Access Roads, 2 TIA Road Bids @ LCC Regular 2023-09-26

Andrew Toussaint gave a report about the Small Business Administration and EMA Director Ashley Tye gave reports on hurricane assistance and local disaster group COAD, in this Lowndes County Commission Regular Session of September 26, 2023. Because of those reports and a second recognition of Leadership Lowndes (they showed up late), the meeting took 49 minutes.

[Collage @ LCC 26 September 2023]
Collage @ LCC 26 September 2023

Like the previous morning, Commissioners were unusually chatty.

Commissioner Scottie Orenstein had some questions and comments about 5.a. Quiet Pines Golf Course Ezgo Golf Cart Lease Agreement. and 5.b. Mental Health Model Resolution for ACCG. Commissioners Clay Griner, Demarcus Marshall, County Manager Paige Dukes, and Chairman Bill Slaughter discussed which statehouse bills the mental health resolution mentions, and that it does not support any particular current bill, specifically not HB 520. They passed the resolution unanimously. Continue reading

Videos: Golf carts, mental health, wetland credits, regional transit, Lift Station and Fire Station Access Roads, 2 TIA Road Bids @ LCC Work 2023-09-25

Update 2023-09-26: Packet: Golf carts, mental health, wetland credits, regional transit, Lift Station and Fire Station Access Roads, 2 TIA Road Bids @ LCC 2023-09-25.

Lowndes County Commissioners were unusually chatty in yesterday morning’s Work Session, about 5.b. Mental Health Model Resolution for ACCG, in which they sounded like prison reform advocates.

[Collage @ LCC 25 September 2023]
Collage @ LCC 25 September 2023

Also about 6.a. Grove Point Lift Station Access Road, 5.c. Purchase of Wetland Credits for Shiloh Road Bridge Project, and 5.a. Quiet Pines Golf Course Ezgo Golf Cart Lease Agreement.

They had no questions about the almost $4 million dollar item, 6.b. TIA 2023-05 Briggston Road Grading, Drainage, Base, and Paving Bids, which leads to Wild Adventures.

See below for more notes on those items, with the LAKE videos of each agenda item, followed by a LAKE video playlist.

See also the agenda and bid documents.

We have not yet received a response to the LAKE open records request for the board packet.

Sure, I only sent that request Sunday. But it is stil mysterious why Lowndes County does not put its board packets on its own website, like many counties smaller and larger in Georgia and Florida have been doing for years. Continue reading

Videos: Danny Weeks, Millage Rate, 3 Alcohol, Animals, Paper Ballots @ LCC Regular 2023-08-22

$4.2 million per mill times 2.5 mills is $10.5 million dollars a year that the county fire department is to get with no budget.

That’s up from last year’s $3.2 million per mill for $8 million, so the county fire department is to get an extra $2.5 million. Yet they never advertised it as a tax increase.

For what, and with what accounting, was not explained. Chairman Bill Slaughter said it was to maintain a “healthy fund balance” for five years since they established the fire department. Where can citizens see this fund balance, and what it is being spent on?

[Collage @ LCC 22 August 2023]
Collage @ LCC 22 August 2023

Both millage rate votes passed only by 3:2. If all three of the Lowndes County Commissioners who voted against on one or the other had voted against both, or if one of the other two had joined against on those votes, the county would have had to think again.

However, for the main millage, they approved 8.778 mills, which the Chairman said is a rollback of 1.434 (from last year). This is noticeably less than the Department of Revenue recommendation of 8.896 mills. Less as in 0.118 mills or $283,200. Until Commissioner Clay Griner the previous day asked what millage would actually match the projected budget, they seemed to be heading for the larger figure.

Still no explanation of why only one of the three beer and wine licenses got a Public Hearing.

They added an item for a change order on a Val Del Road water main for “about $180,000”. That reminds me that in July they approved almost $10 million for another water main in advance of development. Got to have sprawl.

More questions about the condition of the old dog box. Continue reading

Videos: Howell Road Halfway House approved in split vote @ LCC Regular 2023-04-11

Two weeks ago the Lowndes County Commission appointed Brenda Mims to the Board of Health, Victoria Copeland and Marion Ramsey to ZBOA, and Jane Peeples to the Library Board, all unanimously.

Everything else (except one item) also passed unanimously, including 8.b. Amend 2015 Solid Waste Ordinance raising waste collection fees and reducing collection center hours, as requested by the haulers.

[Collage @ LCC Regular 2023-04-11]
Collage @ LCC Regular 2023-04-11

It became even more obvious why they tabled it a month before: All the Lowndes County Commissioners apparently already knew how they were going to vote on the Howell Road halfway house rezoning before they held the Public Hearing.

The vote was the same as Continue reading

Correspondence: Proposed Rezoning on GA 122 at Skipper Bridge Road 2022-12-12

Update 2022-12-20: Videos: Dollar General rezoning tabled, Troupville Nature Park land purchased @ LCC 2022-12-13.

All letters were opposed, of those sent to GLPC or LCC by December 12, 2022, about the rezoning for a Dollar General on GA 122 at Skipper Bridge Road.

Thanks to Lowndes County Planner JD Dillard for sending this correspondence on REZ-2022-20 last Monday in response to an open records request, before I mentioned it in the Lowndes County Commission meeting Tuesday.

[Map, Letters, REZ-2022-20, GA 122 & Skipper Bridge Road]
Map, Letters, REZ-2022-20, GA 122 & Skipper Bridge Road

Letters

There are letters from Joyce Jones, Jamie Rowntree, and Gwen Rowntree. Gwen Rowntree sent a letter to the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission (GLPC) and followed up with a similar letter to the Lowndes County Commission (LCC).

It appears that while there may be people who have spoken to Commissioners in support of the rezoning, as of Monday a week ago nobody had written in support. All the letters are in opposition.

As you can see, Continue reading

Videos: Dollar General rezoning legally must be tabled, Troupville land purchase is for a park @ LCC 2022-12-12

Update 2022-12-18: Correspondence: Proposed Rezoning on GA 122 at Skipper Bridge Road 2022-12-12.

County Manager Paige Dukes said they are legally required to table the rezoning for a Dollar General, because they were a day late on getting notices out, although she twice blamed that on the Valdosta Daily Times.

[Collage @ LCC 12 December 2022]
Collage @ LCC 12 December 2022

County Chairman Bill Slaughter said the applicant had requested tabling, and he recommended the second meeting in January (January 24, 2023). Commissioner Demarcus Marshall wanted to know why. The Chairman said, “It works out for two of the parties involved, the county and the developer.” (Nevermind the people.) Commissioner Scottie Orenstein said “I’m not in favor of tabling something only to give the developer more time… If he has true intentions on meeting with the community and having a meeting with them, a town hall, something a little more official, then I’m OK with that. But not to just give them more time.” The Chairman disagreed, “Well, I don’t think time is going to resolve anything in this particular situation.” Plus regarding the applicant, “We’re here to give them the courtesy if they make a request through that application process.”

Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker wanted clarified that the main issue was the date issue. Alleged County Attorney G. Walter Elliott reminded them they have to vote to table (the Chairman cannot just unilaterally table).

Commissioner Demarcus Marshall wanted to know if the Planning Commission knew about the timing issue. Continue reading

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