Suing local businesses helps run up fees to the county attorney, says County Manager Joe Pritchard. He didn’t mention that continuing to promote sprawl for example through the county’s thoroughfare plan also runs up fees that property taxes will never meet. Commissioners seemed very concerned about “stakeholders” whom they said were “the development community, the real estate community” and “the construction and homebuilder industries”. Maybe somewhere they mentioned the agricultural and forestry industries, or sales tax payers even if they don’t own real estate; if so I missed it. At least they’re thinking about the Comprehensive Plan and the general direction of the county in a public forum. And the County Planner did talk about quality of life. Plus it seems business prospects bringing that up got the attention of the County Manager. They said they have a responsiblity to set the direction of the county. How about instead of continuing to drive sprawl outwards, which is a fiscally (and environmentally) irresponsible path, turn to directing development to be more dense in already-developed areas? They continue this morning at 8:30 AM, and Gretchen is there again with the LAKE video camera.
Even the Commissioners had no agenda to look at, although they did have printed copies of the draft budget, which the public could only see as it scrolled by on the screen at yesterday morning’s Lowndes County Commission Budget Work Session, which was over by 10AM even though it was announced as 8:30AM to 5PM. However, it is good that they had this Work Session in public. County Clerk Paige Dukes told Gretchen afterwards that no draft budget would be available to the public until after two changes requested by the Chairman were incorporated. She did not say when that would be finished or when the draft budget would be available so taxpayers could comment. She did refer people to last year’s budget. The slides that Finance Director Stephanie Black presented do provide an interesting high level overview. Other than Commissioners and very few staff, the only people in the room were VDT reporter Joe Adgie, someone unidentified, and Gretchen taking these LAKE videos so you can see what happened. Continue reading
Your elected Commissioners and top county staff listening to Finance Director Stephanie Black’s report, around 9:30 AM on the all-day retreat agenda. The seemingly most boring subject, but the key to all the others. Gretchen is there videoing, but apparently nobody else other than the VDT reporter. Continue reading
They approved setting millage rates 8:30 AM Friday 26 July 2013 that’s for the property taxes they collect, at the 9 July 2013 Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission.
County Manager Joe Pritchard reminded Commissioners they were required to set a date to set tax millage. Finance Director Stephanie Black said:
You can have it as early as the 26th of July, but it has to be done and ready for the tax commissioner by July 31st.
County Manager wanted to know if there would be a quorum present for 26 July 2013 at 8:30. Chairman asked for a show of hands, and got two, which is not a quorum. Commissioner Demarcus Marshall checked his calendar and said he could also attend, and three is a quorum. Commissioner John Page asked if this was the day they previously had been advised in an email. Answer: no, that was Thursday, and this date is a Friday. County Manager also clarified that they couldn’t set their millage until the School Board did. Commissioner Marshall noted he had previously been told the 25th, and once again staff admitted that was so. Three days later, there is still nothing on the county’s online calendar for 26 July 2013.
Video is here.
Ordinance or policy? In the Work Session Minutes of 10 January 2011 the special assessment rate is set “in accordance with Lowndes County’s financial policies”:
Special Assessment Rate for 2011,Finance Director, Stephanie Black, presented the proposed special assessment rate at 5.25% (two percent above prime), in accordance with Lowndes County’s financial policies. Commissioner Raines asked if the rate would fluctuate through the year in the event the prime rate adjusted. Ms. Black answered that the county is required to set the rate annually so the actual prime rate would not be considered again until the beginning of next year.
Yet yesterday she said:
“It’s just always been set at 2% above prime. I believe it’s in your ordinance.”
Which is it, a policy or an ordinance? Maybe it’s a policy set in an ordinance. If so, which ordinance? Is it one of the dozen on the county’s website or is it one of the many more that are not?
PS: Owed to Jane Osborn.
Why should businesses have to pay an additional license fee for Sunday alcohol sales, if the only justification is to raise money to pay for administering that license? That was a topic at yesterday morning's Lowndes County Commission Work Session for agenda item 6.a. Revision to the Lowndes County Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance.
Finance Director Stephanie Black mentioned the things we already heard from the staff, brown bagging, social hosts (serving alcohol at private events to underage drinkers), and the Sunday package sales. She said for the voter-approved Sunday alcohol sales the license fee would be $250, plus a requirement for an immigration affidavit. Commissioner Powell took exception to that additional license fee, which would be on top of a license fee already necessary for the rest of the week. Black and Chairman Paulk defended it as necessary to collect money to administer the license fee. Powell wondered if they'd need the money if they didn't have the license fee. Paulk said the city of Valdosta charges $1000 for a Sunday license. Powell said he disagreed with that, too.
Here's the video:
Additional license fee for Sunday alcohol sales?
Work Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE), Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 10 December 2012.
To pave or not to pave? That is the question that was danced around by County Engineer Mike Fletcher and County Manager Joe Pritchard, with interest, at yesterday morning’s Lowndes County Commission Work Session, on agenda item 8.d. Georgia Department of Transportation Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant.
County Engineer Mike Fletcher said Lowndes County was receiving from GDOT a Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) of $746,984.75 for FY “two thirteen”. Because T-SPLOST didn’t pass, the county has to come up with a 30% match, which is $224,095.43. He said there was a work sheet and project list in the board packet (which the rest of us don’t get to see).
County Manager Joe Pritchard said with change from LARP (Local Assistance Road Projects, primarily for resurfacing) to LMIG the county could now use these funds for any purpose, and had planned to use LMIG for Continue reading
Executive Director Andrea Schruijer explained the Industrial Authority’s theory behind all those industrial parks. And she mentioned market analysis for a sustainable local economy. Nothing about market analysis about whether industrial parks actually bring in new businesses….
Valdosta CEO posted 28 NOvember 2012, Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority Invests in Land Development For Future Industries,
Andrea Schruijer, Executive Director of the Valdosta Lowndes County Industrial Authority. A few years ago the community had the foresight to approve a mill that they would set aside for the Industrial Authority to provide for economic development. And because the community did that, the industrial authority is able to better plan for the future in growing our opportunities for economic development. One of the things that we noticed a few years ago is that we didn’t have enough land for development. And we didn’t have the right sized tracks in case we had a large user coming in looking at the community, where would we put them?
|Public Works (Facilities, Road Maintenance, Road Construction)||$0.15|
|Board of Commissioners and Administration||$0.08|
|Recreation Authority (VLPRA)||$0.07|
|Industrial Authority (VLCIA)||$0.06|
|Other — including outside agency support||$0.04|
|Board of Assessors||$0.03|
|Other Emergency Services (EMA, Coroner, Emergency Telecommunications)||$0.02|
|Animal Control Services||$0.01|
On the county’s web pages Finance Director Stephanie Black has made available Where does your money go? She narrated that table in the 26 June 2012 Second Budget Hearing. Here it is in plain text on the right. I’ve taken the liberty of sorting it by largest expenditures first.
That order is more or less what she showed in this pie chart, although the categories don’t quite seem to match. In the pie chart, public safety (Sheriff) and court services are lumped together, so they make the biggest slice. In the table, the second biggest category is “Public Works (Facilities, Road Maintenance, Road Construction)”. Hm, so how much do we spend on road construction?