BOC honors retired White County teachers

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(Pictured front row: Commissioner Terry Goodger, Elaine McCleary, June Collins, Martha Senkbeil, Judy Lovell and Tony Kemp. (Back row) Commissioner Craig Bryant, Chairman Travis Turner, Frank Senkbeil and Lamar Collins.)

CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners had a full slate of agenda items to address at Monday’s work session and called meeting.

The first order of business was to read a proclamation in recognition of retired White County teachers and declare Nov.  4 as Retired Teachers Day in White County.

Retired teachers who attended Monday’s meeting included Elaine McClean, June Collins, Martha Senkbeil, Judy Lovell, Tony Kemp, Frank Senkbeil, Lamar Collins.

Commissioners held two public hearings. The first was to consider the application for a land use permit submitted by Todd Campbell to redistrict 3.2 acres located at 1617 Hwy. 115 East from Community Commercial District (C1) to Highway Business District (C2). Campbell would like to extend a parking lot to accommodate his used car lot.

The second public hearing was to consider the application for a land use permit filed by Tina M. Della for 1.66 acres located at 373 Yonah Mountain Road. The proposed use is to place the property in a “Rent by Owner” program. The present use is Residential Single Family District (R1).

Commissioners also discussed awarding contracts for animal control/veterinary services, senior services and scoreboards for ball fields at Mount Yonah Preserve.

Public Safety Director David Murphy asked the board to approve a one year contract for veterinary services with VCA Chestatee Animal Hospital in Dahlonega.

Murphy said that six request for proposal (RFP) had been hand-delivered to veterinary services and VCA Chestatee Animal Hospital was the only one that responded. The county has used a local veterinary service in the past, but was charged $108 to have the vet prepare the animal for adoption. Since the county’s fee to adopt an animal was only $90, taxpayers were losing money. Chestatee VCA charges the county $55 per animal.

The Board also discussed:

  • An update of the Chestatee/Chattahoochee Research Conservation and Development Council activities;
  • A contribution to the “Cabin Fever Campaign” to relocate a historic Appalachian log cabin to the visitor’s center at Smithgall Woods State Park;
  • An update of the SPLOST program;
  • Options for a scholarship program at White County Parks and Recreation Department;
  • The 2018 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program application for the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office (ARDEO);
  • Revisions to the fire recover fee schedule in accordance with revised Federal Emergency Management Agency standards;
  • Including Westmoreland Road repairs for the 2019 local maintenance and improvement program (LMIG) for deep patching, leveling and resurfacing from Hwy. 129 to Hwy. 154;
  • Awarding two certificates of deposit currently held by United Community Bank;
  • Changes to the Alliant/Health Partners Network effecting county employees access to Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic providers;
  • An appointment to the White County Board of Health to fulfill the remainder of a six-year term previously held by Emmett Shotts.

Issues discussed during a work session are not generally voted on until the next county commission voting meeting.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Commissioners discussed a new 9-1-1 phone system during a three-hour work session Monday

News

CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners discussed a number of key issues during Monday’s work session, including the purchase of a new 9-1-1 phone system, the possible creation of a committee to draft a historic preservation protection plan and bids received for a maintenance and operation contract for the transfer station as well as replacement compactor for the convenience center.

Commissioners do not typically vote on issues during a work session. Instead, they are placed on the agenda for the next voting session which will be Oct. 1.

Public Safety Director David Murphy presented the results of a request for proposal (RFP). After review of the bids received, staff recommended the contract be awarded to AT&T for a total amount of $222,298 which is approximately $38,0000 less than what was encumbered in the 2018 budget to be paid for by special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) revenue.

Murphy said the current system was installed in 2007 and has outlived its usefulness and the company that sold it is no longer in business. The new system, which includes electronic equipment, computer equipment and software that will allow the 9-1-1 center to pinpoint the caller’s location which could save first responders valuable time if someone is injured in a remote location and don’t know where they are.

John Erbele asked the board to consider creation a committee charged with drafting a county-wide historic preservation protection plan and map overlay. Erbele said White County is a very special place and it will be even more special 20 years from now if such a plan is adopted.

Commissioners have received a number of citizen complaints about the transfer station so they have been considering awarding the maintenance and operation contract to a different vendor. When the bids came in, however – Advanced Disposal, which holds the current contract – was the lowest bidder.

Staff recommended awarding the contract to Advanced Disposal, but with some additional requirements aimed at cleaning up the site.

There was also a discussion about vacation rentals by owner (VRBO). County Manager Michael Melton pointed out that a number of property owners who rent their houses out to tourists are not paying the hotel/motel tax or sales tax which they are required to pay.

There were three public hearings. One was a request from Jon Steven Neal for a conditional use permit to operate a rent-by-owner property on 1.18 acres at 253 Enota Drive in Sautee Nacoochee. Another was a request by Jeremy McAfee to redistrict 7.10 acres at 2779 Tesnatee Gap Valley Road to C-2 Highway Business District. The property now houses a automotive body shop. McAfee wants to expand the building to house other businesses. Neither of those public hearing attracted any opposition.

However, Michael Clark’s request for a conditional use permit at 5058 Helen Highway in Sautee Nacoochee to operate a “place of worship” did draw opposition from an adjacent property owner who said the building lacks adequate parking space and septic system.

Commissioners also reviewed bids for the contract to operate the transfer station. Three bids were received and the current provider Advanced Disposal was the lowest bidder with a proposed tipping fee of $49.75 per ton, a 12 percent increase of the current fee.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Commissioners approve contractor to replace two bridges

News

CLEVELAND, Ga. – In a two-hour called meeting and work session Monday, the White County Board of Commissioners considered a wide-range of issues from the replacement of two bridges on New Bridge Road to setting the fall hours at Yonah Preserve.

The county had hoped to replace the bridges one at a time, but when the initial bid request went out with that requirement, no bids were received. When the county rebid the project to allow the bridges to be replaced at the same time, the low bidder was Savannah-based E&D Contracting Inc. Commissioners with a bid of $1,043,645.50.

Most of the funding for the bridges will come from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Local Maintenance Improvement Grant. The county will be required to provide a match of approximately $238,000.

Commissioners also approved an amendment to the proposed fiscal year 2018-’19 budget. County Clerk Shanda Murphy informed the board that a line-item by line-item review of the budget identified several instances where, based on historical numbers, the amounts could be increased and several other instances where the amount of expenditures could be decreased.

Additionally, Murphy said the county had received about $440,000 in additional revenue in the last couple of weeks that can be added to the budget.

Commission Chairman Travis Turner announced the county had received a check for $100,000 from the state of Georgia to help with emergency road repair of the damage caused by Tropical Storm Alberto in May.

 

In other decisions, the board approved:

  • The annual contract for the senior center with the Department of Human Services to provide transportation for seniors to the senior center and to the grocery and doctor’s offices in the amount of $32,000.
  • Adopted of a surplus resolution for eight vehicles assigned to the Sheriff’s Office;
  • The purchase of two new fully-equipped Ford Explorers for the Sheriff’s Office from Jacky Jones Ford for $86,930;
  • An increase in the fee for participation in league basketball at parks and recreation of $5;
  • A title transfer of a 2000 Blue Bird bus from the White County Board of Education to the Sheriff’s Office;
  • Adoption of a resolution passed by the Georgia General Assembly that mandates all counties to increase the cost of 911 calls from pre-paid wireless phones from 75 cents to $1.50;
  • Authorization to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for a new compactor for the convenience center;
  • Appointment of Commissioner Edwin Nix to serve as the voting delegate for the 2018 ACCG Legislative Leadership Conference;
  • Appointment of Erica Owens to the White County Department of Family and Children’s Services Board.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Road projects, emergency funding for Alberto damage on agenda for Board of Commissioners meeting Monday

Business, News

CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners has a busy agenda schedule for Monday’s work session and called meeting with 15 items to discuss, including a review of the bids received for proposed 2018 road projects.

The roads that were approved by commissioners this year qualify for the state’s local maintenance and improvement grant (LMIG).

The board will also consider designation of Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) emergency funding for damage caused by tropical storm Alberto. White County was hard hit by the storm, especially along Hwy. 75 between Cleveland and Helen. The county received 15 inches of rain during the seven days after the storm made landfall.

Other items to be discussed, include:

  • A 2018-‘19 transportation contract for the senior center;
  • Adoption of a surplus resolution for eight vehicles assigned to the Sheriff’s Office;
  • A request by the Sheriff’s Office to purchase two vehicles;
  • A revision to the recreation department’s participation fees;
  • A resolution to amend the fiscal year 2018-’19 budget;
  • Transfer of a 2000 Bluebird bus from the White County Board of Education to White County EMA;
  • Adoption of resolutions related to collection of 911 service fees as required by House Bill 751;
  • Approval of the bidding process for a new compactor for the convention center;
  • Consideration of appointing a voting delegate for the 2018 ACCG Legislative Leadership Conference;
  • Appointment to the White County DFACS board;
  • Establishment of fall season hours for Yonah Preserve;
  • Establishment of a boating policy on Yonah Preserve Lake;
  • Presentation of a monthly financial status report.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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BOC approves lower-than-expected millage rate

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners struggled to set the new millage rate during a third and final public hearing Monday. Commissioner Craig Bryant’s initial motion called for a rate of 11.25 mills. That was quickly voted down by Commissioners Terry Goodger, Edwin Nix and Lynn Holcomb. Bryant tried again with a motion of 11 mills. That too failed. Finallly, Commissioner Lynn Holcomb’s motion for 10.75 mills gained unanimous approval.

But the lower millage rate led to another struggle. The budget the Board tentatively approved last month was predicated on setting the millage rate at 11.25. But now that the 10.75 rate has been approved, county staff must find approximately $683,000 in spending cuts to balance the budget.

Commission Chairman Travis Turner strongly opposed withdrawing money from county reserves to help balance the budget. The Association of County Commissioners Georgia recommends counties keep three months of operating expenses in reserves to use in an emergency like the tropical storm that blew through White County last month. The county now has the equivalent of about 1.8 months in its reserves.

“For 10 years, the county has received a strong financial rating by carrying two to three months or more in our fund balance,” he said. “I feel like we’re playing with fire (by considering a reduction in the fund balance.”

Commissioners then turned the work over to county staff to find the necessary cuts and bring its recommendation back to the Board as soon as possible.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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BOC holds second public hearing millage increase

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – After holding the line on the county’s portion of the millage rate for seven of the last eight years, the White County Board of Commissioners has announced and advertised a second consecutive increase. Commissioners held the second public hearing during a called meeting Thursday afternoon.

The third and final public hearing is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. July 30.

The county’s announced millage rate for fiscal year 2019 is 11.25, an increase of about 1.26 mils from 2018. From 2010 through 2013, the rate remained steady at 9.19 mills despite the economic downturn. From 2014-2016, commissioners reduced the rate to 9.168.

But the operation of county schools makes up the larger portion of a citizen’s tax bills. The White County School System has announced a millage rate of 17.481, bringing the overall rate that homeowners must pay to 28.731 mills.

One mill equals one dollar for ever thousand dollars of taxable value. The Tax Assessor’s Office determines the fair market value of property, which is then taxed at 40 percent. Thus the owner of a $300,000 home taxed at 40 percent of its value ($120,000) multiplied by the overall millage rate of 28.731 would pay $3,447.72 ($1,350 in county taxes and $2,097.72 in school taxes).

The 2019 approved county budget totals $18,925.734, an increase of about $1.5 million. Approximately $1 million will pay for a long overdue salary increase for law enforcement and other county employees as well as the addition of two new positions.

Counties that plan to increase the millage rate are required to advertise the increase in the local newspaper and hold three public meetings. White County will hold its third public hearing on July 30 at 4:30 p.m. Citizens wishing to speak in favor of or in opposition to the increase are invited to attend.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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State deeds 1,000-acre Yonah Preserve to White County

News

CLEVELAND — White County Commission Chairman Travis Turner opened Monday’s meeting with a blockbuster announcement that will benefit the county for generations to come.

“I have the distinct pleasure of presenting to you, the citizens of White County the official deed — signed by Governor Deal and with the state seal — the 1,000-acre Yonah Preserve.” The announcement drew loud applause from those in attendance.

The county entered into a 50-year lease of the property from the state five years ago.

“Since then, the state of Georgia with Governor Nathan Deal and other state officials have seen White County’s commitment to developing an outdoor destination program from ball fields to hiking and biking trails to fishing,” Turner said. “These activities will not only benefit White County for generations to come, but also give us an opportunity to draw people from outside our area.”

The only caveat attached by the state is the land be used for the public good.

Only about 20-25 percent of the acreage is buildable due the terrain, which consists of mountains and ridges.

“This is a golden opportunity for the county as we move forward if we’re going to be a tourist-based community,” Commissioner Edwin Nix said. “I’m proud the governor has done what he’s done.”

In other decisions, the Board unanimously adopted the annual Legacy Link contract for operation of the Senior Center.

Commissioners also approved:

  • A resolution to request the Georgia Department of Transportation to install a traffic light at the intersection of Hwy. 129 and Tesnateee Gap Valley Road;
  • A resolution issuing a call for a referendum for the 2020 SPLOST;
  • A planting plan to provide a buffer between Yonah Preserve athletic field area and nearby homes;
  • Allowing staff to proceed with rebidding construction work on the two New Bridge Road bridges;
  • Scheduling process for setting the 2018 millage rate.
  • New summer operating hours for Yonah Preserve. Effective July 12, the preserve will be open Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. through Labor Day.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

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Cities can hold SPLOST funds for indefinite period of time

News

CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners held a brief called meeting Tuesday (June 26) to consider a request by the City of Cleveland for an amendment to the 2020 special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) intergovernmental agreement (IGA).

County Manager Michael Melton confirmed he received an email from Cleveland City Manager Tom O’Bryant asking that the language in IGA be amended to allow the city an indefinite period of time in which to spend its share of the SPLOST proceeds.

Collections of the 2020 SPLOST will end in 2026. The state typically requires that municipalities spend the proceeds within five years after collections are terminated. Failing to do that, the city is required to return the unspent money to the county.

However, White County SPLOST and Project Manager Kevin Hamby said, “The state leaves these things up to an agreement between the county and cities.”

Commissioners unanimously agreed to the amended IGA which allows both Cleveland and Helen to keep the proceeds for an indefinite period, but both are still required to spend the money only on SPLOST-approved projects.

The Board also unanimously approved the reappointment of Bill Black as the private sector representative on the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission.

Commissioners also approve the distribution of local victim assistance payout (LVAP) funds which recognizes a new fund recipient, South Enotah Child Advocacy Center.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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