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Mayor says Rutledge skate park, basketball courts may open soon: Council OKs $20,000 bid for concreteSubmitted by editor on Thu, 06/24/2010 - 20:48.
By James Faucett
The Rutledge City Council has approved a contractor to do concrete work for the new city park’s skating area and basketball courts. The council on Monday approved a bid from Mack White Foundations to do the work for $20,810.40, including the concrete. Mayor Spencer Knight said children should be able to play in the park by July.
The concrete should be poured by June 30.
Plans for the park also include tennis courts, a softball field and a refurbished picnic shelter. It is to be located next to Rutledge’s fire station on Fairplay Road. In other news:
• The council has scheduled a public hearing on the city budget for 6 p.m. on July 12. The council plans to adopt the budget at their July 19 regular meeting.
• The council will also, at their July 19 meeting, interview two lawyers since the city’s former legal counsel Kurt Ebersbach can no longer work with the city. The city needs a lawyer to pursue its April 19 condemnation of a vacant home at 130 West Main Street.
• The council approved up to $500 for a three-day kids camp scheduled for July 7 to July 9 and sponsored by the Rutledge Recreation Department.
• The council approved a business license for Patricia’s Place, a gift shop to be located at 106 East Main Street.
By Patrick Yost
City of Bostwick water customers can expect an increase in their July water bills.
The Bostwick City Council in May approved an increase in cost of water that will take effect on the July water bill.
Bostwick Mayor John Bostwick said Monday at the city’s regular city council meeting that the increases were spurred by a $2,000 deficit the city’s water department recorded for the first five months of 2010.
Base rates for the city’s 169 customers will rise from $17 per customer to $20 per customer and the per thousand gallon rate will rise from $2.95 per thousand gallons to $4 per thousand, a 28 percent increase.
Bostwick said the increase would keep the water department running at a break–even or slight profit ratio. Two weeks ago the city issued letters to every water customer explaining the increase charges. “We haven’t had any calls but of course the bills haven’t gone out yet,” Bostwick said.
The city last increased it’s rates in 2007, in large part to qualify for a grant to improve it’s ailing infrastructure.
Bostwick estimated that the increases would average $5 to $7 per water customer per month.
By Kathryn McBroom
Residents in Buckhead have a neighbor. He’s an American Black Bear, and he’s been seen in various parts of Buckhead, including a sighting near Blue Springs Marina.
Don McGowan, of the Department of Natural Resources, said the DNR received several calls on June 9 reporting the appearance of a large bear in the Buckhead area.
At press time McGowan said there were no plans to remove the bear from the area.
“Unless it’s trapped, we leave it alone,” said McGowan. McGowan said they’re finding local bears are attracted to bird feeders, and he strongly advised residents to temporarily take down theirs down. Bird feeders aren’t the only thing that can increase your chances of spotting a bear. “Be wary of leaving pets in the yard and food outside. Be aware of the garbage you’re leaving,” said McGowan. McGowan strongly encourages citizens to call in and report any bear sightings.
“Definitely call in and report. We like to know what’s going on,” said McGowan.
For more information, or to report a sighting, call 770 918-6416.
By James Faucett
County commissioners approved a $14.3 million budget Tuesday for fiscal year (FY) 2011.
The budget includes a millage rate increase to 8.4 mills from the current 8.178, County Manager Michael Lamar said. Due to a rollback rate, the higher millage should not raise a majority of county residents’ property taxes.
Among the items county financial officials cut to make up for an expected shortfall in revenue were personnel expenses, retirement fund contributions and general supplies and materials.
Also, “We took all the travel and tuition money and put it into the county manager’s budget and it has to be approved on a case-by-case basis,” Lamar said, which reduced the expense by around 25 percent.
The main sources of revenue in the budget, meanwhile, are taxes at $10.8 million and charges for services at $1.2 million.
Commissioners also approved an intergovernmental agreement between the county and Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) for approximately $250,000 from an Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. Lamar said the county will spend the money on retrofitting mechanical systems.
The commission also voted to transfer $975,000 from the county’s Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) IV account to its SPLOST V account.
County Finance Director Mia Wilson said the county has an upcoming debt service payment of a little over $1.4 million. The county has been under projections over the course of SPLOST collections since April of 2007. When monthly collections come back up, the funds will be transferred back in, she said.
Printed in the June 17, 2010 edition.
By James Faucett
The Madison City Council on Monday approved a budget for fiscal year (FY) 2011 that would raise property taxes to make up for an anticipated deficit.
“Next year may be a harder year than this year, so it’s easier to go up a little bit than it is to wait until we have another year in the hole,” said Mayor Bruce Gilbert.
The budget would increase the millage rate from 3.577 to 4.842 to make up for an expected $170,000 shortfall for the next fiscal year.
According to city accountant Karen Guinn, the new rate would meana tax increase of $50.58 on a house valued at $100,000 and an increase of $126.45 on one valued at $250,000.
However, preliminary numbers show a majority of the city’s residential property values have gone down, meaning some property owners could end up paying less in property tax.
The latest estimates from the county tax assessors office have the city’s tax digest at $265.3 million, down 10 percent from 2009’s $294.9 million.
The actual tax digest value should be known by about mid-July, county Chief Appraiser Chuck Anglin said Tuesday, at which point the city would go about setting an actual millage rate.
The budget approved Monday would essentially allow the city to collect in tax dollars the deficit amount so it wouldn’t have to take funds from reserves.
Though the city did not use funds from reserves last year, there have been some years within the last five when the city has dipped into reserves, according to Guinn. The city has a little over $900,000 in reserves, roughly three months’ worth of operating expenses.
By James Faucett
The Morgan County Board of Tax Assessors approved 320 homestead exemption applications at its most recent meeting, Chief Appraiser Chuck Anglin said.
The exemption is given to every person who applies for it who owns and occupies a house, Anglin said. The general homestead exemption reduces a tax bill by about $30 and the senior homestead exemption by $170 to $200.
“We normally have quite a few that either are moving into a new home or they turn 65,” Anglin said, explaining that those 65 and older qualify for the senior homestead exemption as long as they own and occupy their property.
The board also approved a dozen personal property Freeport Exemption applications, Anglin said, with a few tabled to get more detail.
Freeport is an exemption on raw materials that are used in the manufacturing process, Anglin said. The city and the county voted in the exemption to offer to businesses, which have to apply for it each year.
The board denied a conservation use application for an 11-acre property on Sandy Creek Road because the primary purpose wasn’t agricultural use and approved two others.