HB 170 Could Endanger Counties, Cities and Schools

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PennyTaxes are not something people like to discuss but one thing the majority of voters in Butts County have always supported at the polls are taxes which reduce the burdens of property tax payers with sales taxes. That funding mechanism is in danger of being gutted by the proposed HB 170 that was introduced last week in Atlanta and it’s important that Butts County citizens understand now how this could affect them.

We pay 7% sales tax in Butts County or $0.07 on every dollar spent here. So does everyone else who purchases something in Butts County, including fuel products. Three of those pennies are used to directly reduce dependence on property taxes by funding a range of local products through the sales tax. These are known as LOST, SPLOST and ESPLOST.

In Butts County, 53% of all sales tax generated here comes from the sale of motor vehicle fuels. No other county in Georgia gets over 50% of their sales tax revenues from fuel sales…no one else is even close. This means that the financial impact of HB170, which would remove sales taxes on motor fuels, could remove 53% of the dollars we receive each year from LOST, SPLOST and ESPLOST. SPLOST has been used to build our entire county water system, fire stations, soccer fields, library expansions and to renovate a number of county buildings. It has paid for patrol cars, ambulances, fire engines, road maintenance equipment and the paving of dozens of roads over the past 20 years. ESPLOST has built new elementary schools, middle schools and expansions of the high school and will soon pay for a new gymnasium on the campus of Jackson High. Without these voter-approved sales taxes, none of this would have been possible.

LOST, or the 5th penny, goes directly to the county and three cities to help offset the day-to-day costs of local government and in Butts County, it takes the place of nearly 4 mils of tax. In the cities, it helps to prevent having to impose city property taxes as well.

If HB 170 is passed with the removal of fuel sales from the three local option sales tax categories, it could cost the county $1.3 million dollars per year in LOST. It could cost Jackson $530k a year, Flovilla $111k a year and Jenkinsburg $91k per year from their budgets. Costs like these cannot be absorbed by trimming budgets…costs like these can only be absorbed by cutting jobs and eliminating services.

If HB 170 is passed, SPLOST dollars, which fund new projects, would be reduced by an additional $2 million dollars per year. The ability to replace ambulances, fire engines and patrol cars would be cut in half. The ability to replace road equipment and to pave roads would be cut in half. The ability to improve our parks, libraries and fund a variety of other projects would be cut in half, in the county, cities and at the water authority.

If HB 170 is passed, ESPLOST dollars, which fund a range of enhancements to our school system would be reduced by $1.9 million dollars per year. Before ESPLOST, if a new school had to be built, it had to be paid for by bonds which in turn were paid for with property tax dollars. ESPLOST removed that burden from property tax payers and today, probably 80% of those improvements have been made by people stopping in Butts County to fill up with fuel. Our county must have good schools to succeed and good schools must have stable and secure funding sources to make up for the gaps in what the state gives them.

HB 170 was designed to fund transportation needs throughout the state and there are some good provisions in the bill but at the point where the bill takes from the local governments to fund state initiatives for transportation, the bill no longer has the best interests of Georgians at heart. Counties own and maintain 70% of all the roads in Georgia and when you add the cities in, that number climbs into the 80% range. Its local tax dollars that maintain most of those county and cities roads.

None of our local State Representatives introduced this bill. This bill was introduced by House Leadership and they are the ones who need to hear your voices. While they say that this change imposes no new taxes on Georgians, keep in mind that it imposes no new State Taxes. What they aren’t telling you is where the funding will truly come from. You can’t create nothing out of nothing…at least human beings can’t. The money will have to come from somewhere and it is here in Butts County where the greatest percentage will come from. Butts County is Ground Zero for this debate.

Contact Georgia House leadership and let them know that you don’t support taking local dollars that local governments depend on to support state initiatives. Let them know what additional millage rates or locally imposed excise taxes in Butts County could do to harm our future. Be sure to read Buddy Costley’s editorial on the impact to the local school system and let them know how this could affect your children.

Let them know that monies raised here should stay here. As Mayor Pippin stated at the meeting held last night by all of the local governments, authorities and school board, those truck stops and the funds they generate “are our local industry”.

We have good local House Representatives but in order to truly represent you, they need to hear from their constituents about their concerns. This allows them to tell House Leadership how their constituents truly feel about it.

Our counties and cities should not have to pay the price for the state to fix the transportation problems in Georgia. They need to work with the local governments to find balanced solutions to real problems. We are willing to roll up our sleeves and work with them if they will let us.

Please share this with others. Even if you don’t agree with this, it is too important of an issue to not be heard by the people it will affect. Reach out to the House Leaders and to our two House Representatives before this bill becomes a law.

Sincerely

J. Michael Brewer, County Administrator

Contact Information:

Gov. Nathan Deal – 404-656-1776
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle – 404-656-5030
Speaker David Ralston – 404-656-5020
Rep. Andy Welch – 404-656-0213
Rep. Susan Holmes – 404-656-0178

Board of Commissioners to Meet on March 9th

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The Board of Commissioners will hold a regular meeting on March 9, 2015 at 6:00 PM in the C. Wayne King Auditorium at 625 W. Third Street, Jackson, GA.  The public is invited to attend.

The Commission meets on the 2nd  Monday of each month at 6PM at the above location unless otherwise posted.  For more information, contact the County Clerk, Crystal Griggs-Epps at cepps@buttscounty.org.

Transportation Board to Meet February 26th

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The Joint City-County Transportation Board will meet on Thursday, February 26th 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.

Notice of Called Meeting

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The Butts County Board of Commissioners will hold a called meeting on Monday, February 23rd 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.

Agendas and Minutes New Location

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Agendas for the Board of Commissioners’ meetings can now be viewed by clicking on the word “Agendas” located in the column on the right side of the website. Clicking this link will direct you to our new Paperless Agenda Management Software.  Once there, look for the green paper symbol!  agenda pic

January 12, 2015 BOC Called Meeting Minutes

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Opening:

A called meeting of the Butts County Board of Commissioners was called to order at 6:00PM, Monday on January 12, 2015 in the C. Wayne King Auditorium, Jackson, Georgia by Vice Chairman, Henderson. Commissioner Douglas led the invocation.

Present:

Roger D. McDaniel, Chairman (teleconference)
Robert L. Henderson, Sr., Vice-Chairman
G.S. “Gator” Hodges, Commissioner
Keith Douglas, Commissioner
Joe Brown, Commissioner
Michael Brewer, County Administrator
Michael O’Quinn, County Attorney
Crystal Griggs-Epps, County Clerk

Approval of Docket

Item 2015-01-016       Commissioner Hodges made a motion to approve the agenda; Commissioner Henderson seconded the motion. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

New Business

Item 2015-01-017       Michael Brewer presented the request to authorize the Chairman to sign the Correctional Services Agreement dealing with the probation services for the Probate Court. The request comes from Judge Biles due to the document on file has the signature of the former Judge Johnston. Commissioner Hodges made a motion to approve, Commissioner Douglas seconded. Vote 4-0 (Commissioner Douglas abstained).

Item 2015-01-018       Christy Lawson presented Case #12-01-2014 before the Board advising that Great American Travel Center had submitted its final plat for property 2679 Hwy 16W. The final plat has been reviewed and approved by the county engineer and the technical review committee members. The plat meets all requirements and regulations of the County’s ordinances. The Planning Commission Board recommended approval of the final plat at their December 11, 2014. Ms. Lawson stated that the County has a Certificate of Occupancy to issue them as well. Mr. O’Quinn clarified that Great American Travel has built a road to our specifications and has been inspected by the county and now the Travel Center is now deeding this road to the County and after two years the County must maintain the road. The next two years, the developer has agreed to maintain it and has provided a letter of credit from the Bank of Terrill for 10% of the construction cost of the road to back up their obligation to maintain it. County Attorney, O’Quinn opened the Public Hearing to hear any favor or opposition on the request. Mr. Bob Ryan of the Atlanta South 75 Travel Center wanted to make sure that there would be no truck fueling or truck parking at the rear of the building. Ms. Lawson stated there are no available parking spaces or stand-alone fuel islands in the rear of the building and the owner would have to come back before the Board to get approval to have either. Vice Chairman Henderson closed the Public Hearing. Commissioner Hodges made a motion to approve the final plat of the Great American Travel Center contingent on any additional parking or fueling facilities will come back before the Board of Commissioners for final approval and authorize the Vice Chairman to sign the necessary documents, Commissioner Douglas seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-019       Christy Lawson presented case #01-01-2015 for Bill and Kay Collins of Jackson, GA to rezone approximately 44.63 acres from AR to R1 low density for a new proposed residential subdivision consisting of approximately 22 homes located at 480 Colwell Road, Jackson, GA. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommends the approval of this rezoning with the following conditions of placing a 50 foot berm vegetated buffer between the two adjoining property lots in front of the subdivision; the full length of both lots. Mr. Brewer verified with Mrs. Lawson that tonight’s vote is only to approve the rezoning and not a subdivision; and that the rezoning is consistent with the future land use. County Attorney, O’Quinn opened a Public Hearing to hear of any in favors or oppositions. Robert Jordan of Jordan Engineering and Craig Collins stood to give more detail on the project. Timothy Howard, Bob Ryan, and Gerald Led stood in opposition of the request. Vice Chairman Henderson closed the Public Hearing. Commissioner Brown made a motion to approve the rezoning from AR to R1, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-020       Adjournment

January 5, 2015 BOC Workshop & 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 January 5, 2015 in the C. Wayne King Auditorium, Jackson, Georgia by Chairman Roger McDaniel. Commissioners present at this time were McDaniel, Henderson, Hodges, Douglas, and Brown. 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
Joe Brown, Commissioner
Michael Brewer, County Administrator
Crystal Griggs-Epps, County Clerk
Michael O’Quinn, County Attorney

The Workshop was called to order by Chairman McDaniel at 5:05PM. The purpose of the workshop was to have a legislative discussion with the County’s legislators. Chairman McDaniel started the workshop by asking the legislators how to go about securing appointments to State boards. Representative Holmes stated if someone is interested in being appointed to a particular Board to let her or the others know as they will write a letter or make a phone call which has proven to be successful in the past.

Senator Jones advised there are a lot of proposals for transportation this year and that a gas tax has been mentioned. Some have suggested that it will be easier to take the fourth penny and put back in transportation. Gas taxes are the life line for some small communities and would make a 67% impact on Butts County. Representative Holmes asked are people willing to be taxed for better roads.

Chairman McDaniel asked what is the possibility of TSPLOST coming back. Representative Holmes advised that the previous TSPLOST was very poor planned and do not think that it will be proposed again because it was very hard to understand. Senator Jones stated it will be an ongoing conversation and doesn’t know how it will play out. Representative Welch added that there are discussions about possibly amending the penalties and provisions associated with TSPLOSTS and how projects are selected.

Chairman McDaniel invited all legislators to the upcoming Transportation Board meeting scheduled for January 22nd at 6:00PM. The Chairman then opened the floor up to the other Commissioners to bring up their concerns. Vice Chairman Henderson stated that the over growth is awful on Hwy 42S and can we get some help to get this cut down. Senator Jones said he will get this added on the agenda for DOT. The Senator also mentioned the constant wrecks at the intersection of Higgins Road and Hwy 16 and wanted to know if the County had any architectural drawings yet. Chairman McDaniel advised that there are no drawings yet; however, a smaller roundabout has been talked about for the Engle Chapel Road area. Senator Jones mentioned having a traffic count done to possibly warrant the installation of a red light. Representative Welch informed all that a study had been done and the results did not warrant a light.

Commissioner Hodges advised that his main concern is right-a-way maintenance. The County is getting torn up in “Hello Butts County” about not taking care of the right-a-way. The overgrown grass does not make us look good and it would be helpful to have DOT enforcement show up. Transportation has got to grow and be a priority at State level.

Commissioner Douglas wanted to know the status of Shiloh Road and Hwy 16 because there were talks of placing a roundabout in this area. The Sheriff is now placing a deputy out there to help direct traffic. The Commissioner also touched on the right-a-way maintenance by stating that the prison system used to have a detail and do not know if Butts county has been dropped out of it. Senator Jones stated that he had talked to Sheriff Long about potentially providing oversight for prisoner trash pickup. Commissioner Douglas advised that there is a lot of legal work that goes along with obtaining prisoners to do the work. Senator Jones stated he will follow up with Sheriff Long. Vice Chairman Henderson added that the appointee to the Department of Corrections will need to see what is available for us.

Senator Jones suggested that the Board prioritize their safety issues and maintenance projects and email the list to him and the other legislators. Representative Holmes added that DOT loves for the Community to put in money or in-kind. Chairman McDaniel advised that the Board had already identified priorities on the TSPLOST list and would go back and revisit the list to make updates.

Commissioner Brown asked is consolidation good or bad and how would this be implemented? Senator Jones advised that there would need to be a none binding election either the voter is against or for it. Other local governments have contacted the Carl Vinson Institute for assistance. Also, Commissioner Brown asked about the cut through of 1000 feet on Hwy 16 and 75; if coming from Jackson toward Griffin you might as well drive on to Griffin than turning around to get to the other side. Senator Jones advised that GDOT have proposals and conceptual drawings; hoping to get all the property owners to come out. Lastly, Commissioner Brown asked about the sale of liquor in the County. Senator Jones advised that state law requires 35% of registered voters to sign a petition to put forth to the Board and that he has proposed a bill to perhaps eliminate the 35% requirement. However, it will still need to come before the elected body.

Laura Hale of the IDA told everyone about the GEDA luncheon coming up on January 27th at 11:30AM in the Empire room. Senator Jones reminded everyone of the 2nd Annual Butts County day at the Capitol which would be on February 11th with lunch catered at the Twin Towers. Representative Holmes advised everyone to please stay in touch her and the other legislators as it is their jobs to help the County.

 

Approval of Docket

Item 2015-01-001       Commissioner Henderson made a motion to approve the agenda, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-002       Commissioner Hodges made a motion to nominate Commissioner McDaniel as Chairman for 2015, Commissioner Henderson seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

 

Annual Business

Item 2015-01-003       Commissioner Douglas made a motion to nominate Commissioner Henderson as Vice Chairman for 2015, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-004       Vice Chairman Henderson made a motion to reappoint Crystal Epps as County Clerk for 2015, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.
Item 2015-01-005       Commissioner Douglas made a motion to extend the contract of the County Attorney until the regular commission meeting in March, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-006       Commissioner Douglas made a motion to extend the contract of the County Administrator until the regular commission meeting in March, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-007       Michael Brewer addressed the appointment to the Development Authority and the Industrial Development Authority. He advised that Bruce Bartholomew and Danny Edmonds were both interested in being reappointed to the Development Authority. Commissioner Hodges made a motion to reappoint Danny Edmonds to the Development Authority, Commissioner Douglas seconded for discussion to ask were these positions publicized? Mr. Brewer stated both positions were mentioned in the previous Commission meetings. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Hodges made a motion to table Bruce Bartholomew seat for 30 days to see if someone else would be interested in the position, Commissioner Douglas seconded for discussion to state that these positions should be put out for proper advertisement to give others an opportunity to be considered. Commissioner Hodges stated that he would like to see new fresh ideas from members in the community. Commissioner Brown advised that Mr. Bartholomew “brings a lot to the dance” and has a lot of knowledge especially on the financial end. Vote 0-5, motion was opposed unanimously. Commissioner Brown made a motion to reappoint Mr. Bartholomew, Commissioner Douglas seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Hodges made a motion to appoint Alicia Washington to the unexpired terms of Commissioner Brown on the Development Authority and Industrial Development Authority, Commissioner Brown seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

 

New Business

Item 2015-01-008       Commissioner Douglas made a motion to approve the minutes from December 8, 2014 and Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-009       Doug Manning addressed the Board concerning the Animal Control SOP Manual. Mr. Manning stated that the manual includes updated policies and procedures for the Animal Control Department and he assured Chairman McDaniel there wasn’t anything in the revisions that would increase the department’s budget line. Commissioner Henderson made a motion to approve, Commissioner Douglas seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-010       Mr. Manning addressed the Animal Control Ordinance item stating that the ordinance had not been revised in about six years and with the help of Mary Cobbs, he had revised it and is now bringing before the Board for approval. Commissioner Douglas made a motion to approve the first reading, Commissioner Henderson seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-011       Chairman McDaniel presented the Condemnation of Property – Lewis Road item, stating that several years ago a property owner requested to close Lewis Road and in the process of doing so, did not include the Lewis family in the notifications for the Public Hearing and ultimately the road was closed creating a hardship for the Lewis family. The past County Administrator was directed to seek right-a-way of 60’ to reopen Lewis Road as a County Road, but that never took place. Chairman McDaniel made a motion to begin the process of declaration of taking contingent upon the receipt of survey of the property for appraisal, Commissioner Brown seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-012       No Public Comments

Item 2015-01-013       Commissioner Douglas made a motion to go in executive session, Vice Chairman Henderson seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Item 2015-01-014       Commissioner Douglas made a motion to reconvene back in to the regular meeting, Commissioner Hodges seconded; Vote 5-0. Attorney O’Quinn stated that real estate was discussed during the session.

Item 2015-01-015       Commissioner Brown made a motion to adjourn, Commissioner Hodges seconded. Vote 5-0, motion carried unanimously.

Position Opening: E-911 Communications Officer

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The Butts County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Department is seeking full-time employment for a 9-1-1 Communications Officer. Selected applicants perform critical work relating to the receiving, processing and dispatching of emergency calls; processing and logging of radio traffic between the dispatch center and field emergency and public safety units and performing associated duties and tasks. The position requires the flexibility to work 12 hours shifts which may be day or night shifts depending on the needs of the department. Selected applicants must be versed in multitasking and able to work unimpaired in stressful situations. Selected employee will be required to attend state mandated training within the probationary period for the purpose of attaining certification as a POST Certified Communications Officer and a GCIC Terminal Operator.

We are a drug free work place and all applicants must submit to a drug test and criminal history background check prior to hire. Applications will be accepted until February 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm and may be picked up at the Commissioner’s Office, 625 W. Third Street, Suite 4, Jackson Georgia 30233 or downloaded at the link below.

Note: Applicants must have a clean criminal history. Persons with felony convictions will not be considered under any circumstances due to the nature of the position.

OTHER REQUIREMENTS
• High School Diploma or equivalent.
• Valid Driver’s License
• Legal ability to seek and secure employment within the United States

For further information, contact the Director of Communications, Sonia Sands, at 770-775-8232, Monday-Friday from 8-5.

Please click here to download an Employment Application.

Butts County is an equal opportunity employer.