Tag Archives: Scottie Orenstein

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

Tax Assessors appointed, sworn in, Lowndes County, Georgia 2020-01-05

After many years of rising sentiment, the voters in November 2019, approved changing Lowndes County from being one of only two of 159 Georgia counties that elected its Tax Assessors to appointing them, and the legislature agreed. Finally in September 2020 the Lowndes County Commission appointed three new Assessors, and on January 5, 2021, they were sworn in. Their first official meeting is tomorrow.

[Vote, Swearing, Judge, Assessors]
Vote, Swearing, Judge, Assessors

Applying for the Board of Tax Assessors according to the agenda for the 21 September, 2020, Work Session and the Tuesday, 22 September Regular Session were Mr. Gene Felts and Mrs. Gretchen Quarterman. The Tuesday voting was a bit more complicated. Continue reading

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: Backroom County Commission conditions @ ZBOA 2018-09-11

The interesting part was not that ZBOA approved everything unanimously in its September 11, 2018 meeting, including setbacks for the same Stovall property at 6002 N. Oak Street Ext., Valdosta, for which later that same day the Lowndes County Commission approved removal of the prohibition on personal care homes. The news is that Lowndes County Commissioner Scottie Orenstein stood up in a public meeting and spelled out at 30 minutes 47 seconds that “there was some behind-the-scenes conversation”:

Scottie Oreinstein, ZBOA 2018-09-11

Scottie Orenstein, Lowndes County Commissioner. In March 2015, there was a condition put on this. But after speaking with Chairman Slaughter this afternoon, Continue reading

Videos: Day 2, Planning, Lowndes County Commission @ LCC 2018-02-20

These videos are for those of you who have jobs, or responsibilities, which prevent you from taking random days or hours off at a time. Commissioner Marshall was absent from the second day of the retreat because he has a job which does not allow him the flexibility of daytime hours off. (The first day of the retreat was on Presidents Day.)

The topics of discussion ranged from the ever popular litter and trash collection, to special tax districts, fire and emergency response, animal control and the animal shelter, and one of my favorites, electronic records. Most presentations were made either by the county manager or clerk but the current Deep South Solid Waste Authority Chairman Kevin Beals was first up to talk trash.

Below are links to each LAKE video of Day 2, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the LAKE videos of Day 1 and Continue reading

Videos: Day 1, Planning, Lowndes County Commission @ LCC 2018-02-19

The 2018 Lowndes County Commission Retreat was just about the exact opposite of a commission meeting, except that same group of people are present (almost). There was discussion, disagreement, laughing, sighing, interrupting, listening, inside jokes, outside jokes, and general exchange of views. Those things don’t happen in a commission meeting. This year’s retreat was particularly different because there was no time frame attached to any agenda item and they didn’t discuss topics in exact order, and some topics got covered repeatedly. Commissioner Evans said to me during a break that the previous format of having departments just give a report can “get boring” and she had suggested that they have a different format with more discussion about communications.

The agenda was available on-line but was hard to find and the link I followed to find it is gone now. I did manage to download it before it went away. Find it here: 2018 LCC Annual Planning Meeting Agenda (plus searchable text). There were paper copies available at the meeting after the first break.

I sometimes think that the commissioners may be getting used to me but then, no, don’t be silly.

At the lunch hour, the Commissioners stepped outside to take a group picture and as County Clerk Page Dukes suggested that they get closer and not have so much “space” between them, Commissioners Orenstein and Griner (I live in their districts) huddled together.

Commissioners Gather Group Photo Close Group Photo
  Commissioners Orenstein and Griner

Below are links to each LAKE video, with a few notes followed by a LAKE video playlist. Continue reading

Videos: Appointments to Hospital Authority and Parks and Rec + well pump @ LCC 2017-07-11

Two Regular Sessions back, they started with a moment of silence for Mike Everett, recently deceased employee of the Public Works department. The obituary in the VDT, 14 July 2014,

Michael Thomas Everett, a senior heavy equipment operator with Lowndes county and long time resident of Berrien County, GA, died unexpectedly on July 9, 2017 at the age of 58 at his home. Mike was born in Miami, Florida on December 29, 1958 to Hermon J. Everett and Mary C. Everett both deceased and is survived by his loving Step-Mother Nora N. Everett. Mike also known as Mr. Mike to many of his close friends and co-workers was an avid race car fan, loved cooking, enjoyed tending to his many gardens. He also loved music and often played guitar with family and friends. He was a magnet for all dogs taking great care of any that showed up on his doorstep. Mike was a very kind and generous man who will be deeply missed by his family, close neighbors, friends, co-workers and all who knew him. There is no service scheduled at this time.

No surprise on the pump or for the Hospital Authority, but news about Ashley Paulk and VLPRA. They approved everything else unanimously, as they usually do.

Below are links to each LAKE video, with a few notes, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the agenda. There are no LAKE videos of the previous morning’s Work Session, because, they moved it half an hour early and didn’t send a notification. But there is a blog post about one Commissioner’s response to that. The county apparently does video its work sessions, but not that one, and not this Regular Session, either.

Continue reading

Videos: Appointments to Hospital Authority and Parks and Rec + well pump @ LCC 2017-07-10

Nope, there are no LAKE videos of yesterday morning’s Work Session, because, remember, they moved the meeting half an hour earlier so when Gretchen showed up it was already over. The county does not video its Work Sessions, so there is no county video, either. Since the Valdosta Daily Times apparently did not run a story (I don’t even know if they had a reporter there), this means you won’t know what the Commissioners discussed nor who else was there Monday morning before they vote this evening at 5:30 PM.

Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson welcomes new 23d Wing Commander Col. Jennifer Short at the July 10 Change of Command ceremony.
City of Valdosta PR 2017-07-10: Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson welcomes new 23d Wing Commander Col. Jennifer Short at the July 10 Change of Command ceremony.

Commissioner Scottie Orenstein asked, on facebook, in response to yesterday’s LAKE blog post about the moved meeting: Continue reading