Proposed Transportation Funding Bill Could Impact Local Revenues

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ButtsCountyGeD05aR03aP01ZL-Madison3a_mdmThe Georgia House of Representatives leadership has announced the proposed funding mechanism for addressing state transportation funding which replaces the current sales tax on motor fuel sales with a tariff. The plan features a transition to change the formula from the current fixed 7.5 cents excise tax plus sales taxes generated at the pump to a tax with a fixed excise tax of 29.2 cents. Georgia’s constitution requires transportation excise tax to be allocated to the Georgia Department of Transportation. Dubbed “House Bill 170″, the bill could put in jeopardy how local governments are funded by sales taxes.

In Butts County, we have a 7% sales tax that is broken down as follows:

  • The first 3% or 3 pennies goes to the Georgia DOT for maintenance on roads, streets and bridges
  • The fourth penny goes to the state budget for other uses outside of transportation
  • The fifth penny or LOST goes to Butts County and the cities to keep the millage rate rolled back
  • The sixth penny of SPLOST goes to the county and cities to pay for a wide range of projects-roads, buildings, vehicle replacements, emergency equipment and much more-which takes that burden off of property taxes.
  • The seventh penny or ESPLOST goes to the Butts County School System. It has funded new schools, renovations of schools, equipment and much more, also taking that burden off of taxpayers.

If this bill were to be passed, current sales taxes voted in by the voters of Butts County would not be affected until those had run out. After that, we would lose all sales tax revenues tied to the sale of motor vehicle fuel. In Butts County, over 50% of our sales taxes come from fuel sales, higher than any other county in Georgia according to the FY2014 report on taxes. The reason for this is largely due to the amount of fuel that is sold at Highway 36 and I-75. These funds have fully bought and paid for fire stations, library expansions, administration buildings, soccer fields, gymnasium enhancements, jail facilities, paved roads, three Elementary Schools, a Middle School, renovations to the High School and the auditorium and a host of other things. In the cities, they have helped eliminate property taxes while funding improvements to streets and facilities. Finally, our entire County water system has been built on SPLOST. The economic impact to Butts County could be severe if this funding goes away because most if not all of of the above would not have been possible without it.

As a way to ease the stress of transition to local governments, taxes currently being collected locally on our existing local option taxes would continue until the expiration of the existing SPLOST/ESPLOST. Once those expire, future SPLOSTS would not include motor fuels as part of their sales tax base. In effect, we could potentially lose $.53 of every $1.00 that we used to receive in sales tax revenue.

Local governments could, with the consent of the voters, place up to a 3 cents per gallon local excise tax on fuel sales to help recover the lost revenue; however, this funding would only be usable for transportation projects. Water expansion, public safety and education would lose out. The question is also raised about where that would be applied because what is currently understood is that each jurisdiction would have to pass the tax in their own area and would likely collect that tax off of gas sales within their jurisdiction.

Those with electric and hybrid vehicles could feel the differences as well. Since those vehicles do not contribute as much to the fuel excise taxes, the bill could propose an annual user fee.  Passenger cars running off of strictly electric or natural gas power would pay a $200 fee and commercial vehicles could be assessed $300 annually.

Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) is used to keep property tax millage rates down. Each year, the County rolls back the millage rate by an amount commensurate with what LOST brings in to the general fund budget. LOST this year adds approximately $2.4 million dollars to the general fund. If this includes LOST taxes, we would stand to lose over half of that amount due to loss of motor vehicle fuel sales. Put another way, LOST revenue on fuel sales tax alone saves the property taxpayers over 2 mils of tax each year. That is just the County government and does not take into account the revenue losses that would be incurred by the three cities and that is just on the 5th penny.

More information will be distributed as it becomes available.

Transportation Board to meet January 29th

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The Joint City-County Transportation Board will meet on Thursday, January 29th at 6PM in the C. Wayne King Auditorium, Butts County Administration Building, 625 West Third Street, Suite 4, Jackson, Georgia. The public is invited to attend.

 

Office Closings for Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

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All Butts County business offices will be closed Monday, January 19, 2015 for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.  Offices will reopen on Tuesday, January 20th.

January 12, 2015 Called Meeting Docket

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Called Meeting – 6:00 PM
Preliminaries- Chairman McDaniel
-Call to order
-Welcome
-Invocation & Pledge of Allegiance

DOCKET No.          ACTION ITEMS
2015-01-016    Approval of Agenda

New Business
2015-01-017    Authorize Chairman to sign Correctional Services Contract

Public Hearings
2015-01-018    Case #12-01-2014 –Great American Travel Center LLC (Final plat submitted for 2679 HWY 16 W)
2015-01-019    Case #01-01-2015 – Bill & Kay Collins of Jackson, GA Requesting a rezoning from AR to R1

2015-01-020      Adjournment

December 8, 2014 Regular Meeting Minutes

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Opening:

A regular meeting of the Butts County Board of Commissioners was called to order at 6:00 PM, Monday on December 8, 2014 in the C. Wayne King Auditorium, Jackson, Georgia by Chairman Roger McDaniel. Commissioners present at this time were McDaniel, Henderson, Hodges, Douglas, and Patterson. Vice Chairman Henderson led the invocation.

Present:
Roger D. McDaniel, Chairman
Robert L. Henderson, Sr., Vice-Chairman
G.S. “Gator” Hodges, Commissioner
Keith Douglas, Commissioner
Mike Patterson, Commissioner
Michael Brewer, County Administrator
Crystal Griggs-Epps, County Clerk
Michael O’Quinn, County Attorney

Approval of Docket

Item 2014-12-211       Commissioner Hodges made a motion to approve the agenda, Commissioner Douglas seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-212       Commissioner Douglas made a motion to approve the minutes, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Old Business

Item 2014-08-169       Michael Brewer addressed the disposal of surplus properties item requesting Commissioners to clarify that all proceeds covered from the sale of seized properties shall be distributed according to the current mileage rates between the County, Board of Education and the State of Georgia (after recovering any administrative expenses). Commissioner Hodges gave the staff direction to go ahead and document each individual parcel and all fees to give to the Board of Education prior to any sale. Commissioner Hodges made a motion to direct the staff to proceed with an absolute auction with no reserve to be held at a location inside the city limits of Jackson at a public location with public access with an advertising date on each property sign stating the auction date, measurements of lot, and drawing of lot.   Vice Chairman Henderson seconded. Vote 4-0 with Commissioner Patterson abstained.

Commissioner Hodges also made a motion to send the Board of Education a full list of all parcels the County has in its possession including any and all fees; distribution of proceeds will be the standard process of normal taxation distribution provided after we cover all cost from sells. Vice Chairman Henderson seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-10-191       Commissioner Patterson addressed the policy for sponsoring golf tournaments by stating he had turned it over to the County Attorney, Michael O’Quinn to look over the policy. Mr. O’Quinn stated as long as the organization is required to return an amount equal to or greater than what you sponsored in the golf tournament and as long as the organization is contractually obligated to provide a service to Butts County’s citizens, it is his legal opinion that the County may have such a policy and sponsor such golf tournaments as long as they come and ask for sponsorship. Commissioner Hodges stated that keeping with the principles of what we [local government] are actually here for; he does not agree with the policy. Commissioner Patterson made a motion to support the policy; motion died due to the lack of a second. Commissioner Patterson made a motion to request a $500.00 contribution to the GRTL; motion died due to the lack of a second.

New Business

Item 2014-12-213       Mr. Brewer requested the Board to ratify the resolution for Ms. Gwendolyn West as the resolution was presented to the family at the funeral of the late educator over the weekend. Commissioner Douglas made a motion to ratify the resolution, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-214       Mr. Brewer recommended the reappointment of Mr. Walter Mayfield to the Planning & Zoning Commission. Commissioner Hodges made a motion to reappoint Mr. Mayfield to the commission, Commissioner Patterson seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-215       Mr. Brewer recommended the reappointment of Mr. Alton Stewart to the Board of Appeals. Vice Chairman Henderson made a motion to reappoint Mr. Stewart to the board, Commissioner Douglas seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-216       Mr. Brewer recommended the reappointment of Mr. Shannon O’Neal, Mr. Lanier Burford, and Mr. Ted Strickland to the Construction and International property Maintenance Board of Adjustments and Appeals. Commissioner Douglas made a motion to reappoint the aforementioned gentlemen to the board, Commissioner Patterson seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-217       Mr. Brewer recommended the reappointment of Mr. Jim Hobgood to the Board of Assessors. Commissioner Douglas made a motion to reappoint Mr. Hobgood to the board, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-218       Mr. Brewer requested that the Board approve the 2015 Holiday Calendar. Commissioner Douglas made a motion to approve, Vice Chairman Henderson seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-219       Mr. Brewer advised that Mr. Robert Hiett will be requesting a budgetary appropriation from the GDOT for the replacement of the current transit bus used in Butts County. Butts County usually pledges a 10% capital match for purchases estimated between $4700 and $4800. The annual operation for the transit bus will remain approximately between $2500 and $3500 per year. The program year will not begin until the next fiscal year, starting on July 1st; however, Mr. Hiett will need to send his budget request to the GDOT by December 15th.   Therefore, Mr. Hiett is requesting that the Board tentatively agree to fund the 10% match for the replacement of the bus for fiscal year 2016. If County elects not to replace the bus in fiscal year 2016, the funds can be removed from the contract. Commissioner Patterson made a motion to tentatively approve, Commissioner Douglas seconded. Mr. O’Quinn requested that we make sure that we are not the insurer of the transit bus. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-220       Marcie Seleb addressed the second reading of the revisions to the Use of Sewer ordinance and reiterated to the board the modifications made which includes making it mandatory for a new building located within 300 feet of gravity sewer lines to actually tie on to the gravity sewer system than having an onsite treatment system. It also requires existing structures to tie on when their existing onsite system fails; if they get a new business license or by order of the Health Department or a public court. Commissioner Patterson made a motion to approve, Commissioner Douglas seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-221       Marty Long addressed the road repaving and resurfacing priority list item. Mr. Long advised the Board that all of the LMIG funds are in the bank and using the funds will allow the County to get 13 miles of road paved in 2015. The Maintenance Improvement Grant application has been filled out and now needs to be signed by the Chairman. Therefore, Mr. Long requested the Board to authorize the Chairman to sign the application. Mr. Long also stated all roads on the priority list equal 13 miles of road and Higgins Road and 442 are included. Commissioner Patterson made a motion to approve the road repaving and resurfacing priority list and authorize the Chairman to sign, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2014-12-222       Doug Manning advised the Board that the Capital Improvement Element plan has been revamped due to the concerns of the Planning and Zoning Commission. The plan has been prepared for this Public Hearing and approval by this Board; upon approval the plan will be forwarded to Three Rivers for review and then to DCA. Chairman McDaniel opened the Public Hearing. During the hearing, Ms. Seleb requested that the Water and Sewer Authority be allowed to view the documents prior to adoption. Chairman McDaniel then closed the Public Hearing. Commissioner Douglas made a motion to approve the Capital Improvement Element, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Commissioner Patterson amended the motion to approve contingent upon the Water and Sewer Authority approval, Commissioner Douglas seconded; vote 5-0. Vote 5-0 on the original motion to approve the Capital Improvements Element.

Item 2014-12-223       Doug Manning advised the Board that the Short Term Work Program plan had also been revamped due to the concerns of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Chairman McDaniel opened the Public Hearing. Ms. Seleb requested that the Water and Sewer Authority be allowed to view the documents prior to adoption. Chairman McDaniel then closed the Public Hearing. Commissioner Douglas made a motion to approve contingent upon the Water and Sewer Authority approval, Commissioner Hodges seconded; vote 5-0.

Leisure Services Director, Dan Magee introduced their new Program Coordinator, Mitch Bowen and the County Controller, Chiquita Barkley introduced the new Payroll Benefits Coordinator, Shwander Newton.

Item 2014-12-224       Chris Hunt addressed the Board about the abandoned vehicle and burned out house near his property on Bob Thomas Road. He advised the Board that he hasn’t heard from Code Enforcement at all. Chairman McDaniel advised Mr. Hunt that he will be getting a follow up call from staff regarding the matter.

David Massey addressed the Board about the Great American Travel Center’s unpaid taxes and why their application is being processed when there is an ordinance stating all taxes must be paid. County Attorney, Mike O’Quinn advised Mr. Massey that Great American has been notified and a check for their taxes should be received shortly.

Item 2014-12-225       Commissioner Patterson made a motion to go in to executive session, Commissioner Hodges seconded; vote 5-0.

Item 2014-12-226       Commissioner Douglas made a motion to reconvene back in the regular meeting, Commissioner Hodges seconded; vote 5-0. Mr. Brewer gave a brief summary stating two personnel matters, one real estate, and one legal matter were discussed and there was no action taken on neither.

Item 2014-12-227       Commissioner Douglas made a motion to adjourn, Commissioner Patterson seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Notice of Called Meeting

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The Butts County Board of Commissioners will hold a called meeting on Monday, January 12th at 6PM.  The meeting will be held in the C. Wayne King Auditorium, Butts County Administration Building, 625 W. Third Street, Jackson, Georgia 30233.  The public is invited to attend.

January 5, 2015 Regular Meeting Docket

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Workshop – 5:00PM          – Discussion with legislatures
Regular Meeting – 6:00 PM
Preliminaries- Chairman McDaniel
-Call to order
-Welcome
-Invocation & Pledge of Allegiance

DOCKET No.                        ACTION ITEMS 
2015-01-001   Approval of Agenda*

Annual Business
2015-01-002 Election of Chairman for 2015*
2015-01-003 Election of Vice Chairman for 2015*
2015-01-004 Appointment of County Clerk*
2015-01-005 Appointment of County Attorney*
2015-01-006 Appointment of County Administrator*
2015-01-007 Appointments to Development Authority*

New Business
2015-01-008 Approval of Minutes – December 8th *
2015-01-009 Animal Control SOP Manual*
2015-01-010 Revisions to the Animal Control Ordinance*
2015-01-011 Condemnation of Property  – Lewis Road*

Public Comments
2015-01-012

2015-01-013   Executive Session* (if needed)
2015-01-014   Executive Session Summary
2015-01-015   Adjournment*