Tag Archives: public hearings

Valdosta Budget Hearings @ VCC 2014-06-11

He also called to be sure LAKE got this, and the Public Hearings Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:30 PM are in the City of Valdosta’s online calendar, plus there’s a much briefer story in the VDT today, and see the millage table from last year’s budget hearings. -jsq

From: Tim Carroll <tcarroll@valdostacity.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2014 14:33:35 +0000
Subject: FY 2015 Budget

Hey everyone,

It is that time of year when your city government prepares its’ budget for the upcoming fiscal year. As we have experienced over the past four years, this year’s budget presents many challenges. Revenues continue to decline while expenses keep going up. Fuel alone for the city now runs around $1.7M per year and the power bill to run the city for a year is now at $3.4M. Like you have seen in your homes and businesses, these and other costs continue to rise. Major revenue sources such as the LOST tax (our largest revenue source for the General Fund) continue to decline. And the list goes on. The city has now tapped over the past several years all the reserve funds in or der to balance the budget. Those reserve funds are now gone.

I say all this to illuminate the difficult choices that are present in this year’s proposed budget. While Continue reading

Valdosta budget with goals and accomplishments for each department

It’s too bad nobody came to Valdosta’s two public budget hearings, because the city prepared 183 slides with details for each department, including goals and accomplishments. On the LAKE website is that presentation sent on request by City Clerk Teresa Bolden, and converted to HTML by LAKE. Plus the actual budget. No open records requests were required. Oh, and Valdosta runs garbage collection on a balanced budget without any exclusive franchises.

Valdosta News PR 20 June 2013, City Delivers a Balanced Budget: No property tax increase proposed for citizens,

The Valdosta City Council approved the fiscal year 2014 budget for the City of Valdosta at the June 20 City Council meeting, after having the opportunity to hear the proposed budget at the hearings on June 11 and 12. City staff presented the council with a balanced budget, as required by the City Charter, possibly one of the most challenging and difficult budgets prepared in years.

City leaders decreased the overall city budget from $86.2 million to $77.3 million, a result of Continue reading

What people are interested in having their pennies spent on —Gretchen Quarterman

Received yesterday on Allocate resources in a yearly budget? -jsq

As I was out campaigning, it was interesting what people are interested in having their pennies spent on. Many want better sidewalks and safer places to ride their bikes. One Valdosta police officer particularly commented on the dangerous bike riding conditions (especially on North Oak Extension). Many in the un-incorporated areas want increased fire protection and it seems that everyone better drainage (and I don't mean simply open ditches for rain water) and still others would like to see some soccer fields.

It seems like we should be able to do some prioritizations and then save up for these things. I guess that will be up to the new commission chairman and members and they will have to figure out how to move forward without a SPLOST immediately in 2014.

Personally, I'd like to see a public accounting of how the previous SPLOSTS were spent. And not in big categories, but the actual details… But that's just me.

-Gretchen Quarterman

-jsq

Allocate resources in a yearly budget?

Received today on SPLOST VII lost. -jsq

After reading this post, a question came to mind. Have we the citizens of Lowndes County actually been encouraging our elected officials to be fiscally irresponsible with public funds by allowing SPLOST to continue? if elected officials had to allocate resources in a yearly budget, we may actually encourage our officials to allocate resources towards public projects that would be desirable by the public rather than a priority in pthe minds of our elected officials.

-Bill Grow

SPLOST VII lost

Speaking of transparency, Lowndes County voters defeated SPLOST VII 18,864 to 17,923 (51.28% to 48.72%). Kay Harris in the VDT today quoted Ashley Paulk with this reason:

The defeat came as a surprise to Mayor John Gayle but not to Lowndes County Commission Chairman Ashley Paulk, who said he warned the mayors of the five municipalities that if they continued to argue over LOST, the local option sales tax, that voters would turn against SPLOST in retaliation.

“I told them at the beginning if they didn’t stop arguing over a few percent of the LOST and refused to leave the numbers as is by taking the county’s offer, that taxpayers were going to turn against the SPLOST,” said Paulk.

“Voters are disenchanted with the way their local governments have gotten greedy and they’re tired of the arguments over money. They voted SPLOST down because they don’t trust us with their tax dollars, and it’s a real shame.”

I would agree bickering over the LOST pie was one of the reasons SPLOST lost, and add to that the opaque back-room processes by which the SPLOST VII projects were selected. While the library needs updated and expanded facilities, the lack of documented decision process for the architect and lack of adequate explanation for that probably didn’t help, either, nor did the county’s puzzling lumping of the library in with Parks and Rec. which they later tried to clarify. Perhaps the voters are tired of seeing transparency be a constant source of tension. And I’m using the library as just one example. I could equally cite the project for a farmers market under the overpass, which I think is a bad idea because the farmers market already has a fabulous location at the historic Lowndes County Courthouse, and so far as I know none of the vendors who sell there were even asked if they wanted a new location, much less the public who buy there.

At the public-not-invited SPLOST VII kickoff speeches the last speaker said they were not there Continue reading

Unanswered Concerns about the Biomass Plant

I’m quoting myself here, responding to Brad Lofton’s letter of 19 Sepember 2010.

-jsq

From: “John S. Quarterman”
To: <blofton@industrialauthority.com>, Leigh Touchton
Cc: [VDT and several elected officials; list available upon request]
Subject: Re: Brad Lofton, Executive Director Industrial Authority, doesn’t want his correpondence in the Valdosta Daily Times
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2010 14:08:17 -0400

Brad Lofton,

Leigh Touchton has forwarded me copies of the correspondence between you on behalf of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) with her and the VDT.

I must say I don’t agree with your assertion that:

“The vast majority of her concerns for our project would have been answered two years ago if she had come to any of our forums…”
Here are some examples of unanswered concerns.

Continue reading