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

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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.

 

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Cities can hold SPLOST funds for indefinite period of time

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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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Goodger casts only “no” vote on fiscal year 2019 budget that will likely increase millage rate

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – On a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Terry Goodger opposed, the White County Board of Commissioners approved a fiscal year 2019 total budget of $23,663,399 Monday that will likely mean the first tax increase for citizens in four years.

The new spending plan calls for an increase of $2,509,954 in the total budget since last year. Also included is the addition of six new full-time and three part-time employees and a $2 per hour pay rise for employees other than law enforcement, which received a pay raise earlier this year.

It was the fact that the pay raise for other employees was included in the budget without a vote of the Board of Commissioners that drew Goodger’s strong opposition.

“I don’t recall that we had a formal vote saying we were going to give a pay raise,” Goodger stated. “If we pass this budget, it will be in there but we never really had a discussion on the Board about that. I know we have got to pass a budget but it strikes me as wrong that we may pass a budget with a big millage increase because we have got to give a pay raise.”

In presenting the budget, County Manager Michael Melton said, the proposed general fund budget is $18,925,734 and balancing the budget would require some use of the fund balance and “more than likely” a millage increase. Public Safety will receive the biggest slice of the budget, approximately 48.7 percent, followed by General Government 23.2 percent.

Separate funding makes up $4,734,665 of the overall budget with E-911 getting the most at $1,051,582.

Commissioners approved a contract with Charles Black Construction in the amount of $121,885 for finishing the football field at Yonah Preserve and a lighting services agreement with Georgia Power in the amount of $107,406 plus $632.46 monthly.

The Board also approved revisions to the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) road projects that will allow Stanly Nix Road, Mauldin Road, Bonnie Pearl Lane, Hawthorne Drive and Cedar Hollow to be paved by August 31.

 

 

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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Second public hearing on 2019 budget set Monday

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners will hold a second public hearing and consider adoption of the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget Monday (June 18) at 4:30 p.m.

The general fund budget is proposed at $18,925,734 combined with a separate fund balance of $4,737,665 for a total budget of $23,663,399, which represents an increase of 11.8 percent in the 2018 budget.

County Manager Michael Melton said during the first public hearing last week the $2 million increase in this year’s budget is the result of adding positions in the fire department, roads and bridges and parks and recreation and a $2 an hour pay raise for employees other than public safety, which received their pay raise earlier this year.

The county has a reserve fund of approximately $4 million and commissioners are considering using about $1.2 million from that fund to balance the budget which would leave about 2.6 months of operational funds to cover an emergency.

Commissioners will also consider approval of a design change presented by Carter & Sloope for the Yonah Preserve football field area, a cost estimate provided by Charles Black Construction for finishing one football field at Yonah Preserve and a lighting service agreement with Georgia Power for Yonah Preserve.

Other issues to be addressed by the Board include the approval of the renewal contract with the Chattahoochee Group for landscaping at Freedom Park and revisions to the current special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) road project timeline.

Finance Director Jodi Ligon will present the 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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Commissioners agree to give cities 20 percent split of proposed 2020 special purpose local option sales tax

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 during a called meeting Thursday to divide the revenue from a proposed 2020 special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) with the cities of Cleveland and Helen on a 60-20-20 basis.

Before it can be collected, however, voters must approve an extension of the one-penny tax in a November referendum.

In a recent work session, Helen Mayor Jeff Ash and Cleveland Mayor Shan Ash requested their cities receive 23 percent each. County officials, however, only seemed willing to part with 13 percent. Put to a vote Thursday, Commissioners Terry Goodger, Craig Bryant and Lyn Holcomb voted in favor of awarding the cities 20 percent each.

“I thought it was fair,” Goodger said. “Several years ago, they had a bigger split. They moved down to 13 percent to help us bond the jail and now they want to go back to 23 percent.”

Commissioners originally estimated a six-year SPLOST would generate about $24 million. However, Goodger said collections have been stronger than anticipated the last few years. “Collections remained strong even during the bad times of the economy,” he said. “With two or three percent growth, over the six years of the SPLOST we could collect closer to $28 million.”

Both mayors said projects they would like to undertake would cost about $5.5 million.

Helen Mayor Ash said an expensive upgrade of its wastewater treatment facility would cost about half that. “We have 93 million gallons of sewage that has to be lifted and put in that pond (for treatment). We need a new lift station and those things aren’t cheap,” he said earlier this month.

The city of Cleveland wants to use its share of the revenue for improvements to the city courthouse, infrastructure, public safety facilities and roads and bridges.

Commissioners also approved a joint resolution with Lumpkin County that calls for Ga. 400 to be extended 16.2 miles from its intersection with state Route 60 in Lumpkin County to the new Appalachian Parkway in White County.

Ga. 400 has been an important catalyst for commercial, industrial and economic growth in the counties it runs through. Tourism is one of the top industries in White and Lumpkin counties, hosting about 1.2 million tourists each year. A major four-lane divided highway would make the counties more accessible to tourists. The counties will now present the resolution to state Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega).

“Senator Gooch will bring it to the Georgia Department of Transportation to see if they will put it into their bucket of things to do,” Goodger said. “It’s going to happen eventually. We just want to be proactive rather than reactive in trying to get this on the table now.”

 

 

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 called meeting and work session Monday

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CLEVELAND Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners will hold a combined work session and called meeting Monday (May 21) at 4:30 p.m. Aside from tomorrow’s meeting, however, there will be several changes in the meeting schedule over the next three weeks.

County offices will be closed and there is no meeting scheduled May 28 in observance of Memorial Day. The June 4 meeting is also canceled. On June 11, commissioners will hold a budget public hearing and called meeting. Then, on June 18, there will be a called meeting to adopt the fiscal year 2018-’19 budget.

Commissioners have a busy agenda to address at tomorrow’s meeting, including consideration of SPLOST-funded road improvements to be approved for bidding this spring.

Other agenda items to be addressed, include:

  • Approval of jail use agreements with the cities of Helen and Cleveland;
  • Approval of a resolution supporting Truett McConnell University’s request to reduce the posted speed limit from 45 mph to 35 mph in proximity to the campus on Hwy. 115;
  • Renewal of the memorandum of understanding with the International Mountain Bicycling Association/Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association;
  • Approval of White County Chamber of Commerce’s request for funding of a grant request for the Passport to Outdoor Adventure Tourism Product Development;
  • Review of the contract with Advanced Disposal for operation of the White County Transfer Station;
  • Adoption of an amendment to the county vehicle use policy;
  • Appointments to the  Department of Family and Children’ Services Board, Development Authority, Chamber of Commerce Board, Avita Community Partners Board of Directors and Industrial Building Authority.

 

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 will hold a called meeting Tuesday

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners will hold a called meeting Thursday, May 17, at 8 a.m. Two key issues to be discussed include a resolution in support of the extension of Ga. 400 and the distribution of a proposed 2020 special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST).

The joint resolution being proposed by both White and Lumpkin county governments calls for Ga. 400 to be extended 16.2 miles from its intersection with state Route 60 in Lumpkin County to the new Appalachian Parkway in White County.

Ga. 400 has been an important catalyst for commercial, industrial and economic growth in the counties it runs through. Tourism is one of the top industries in White and Lumpkin counties, hosting about 1.2 million tourists each year. A major four-lane divided highway would make the counties more accessible to tourists.

Commissioners estimate the SPLOST could generate $24,000,000. However, first, city and county officials will have to decide on how to split the tax revenue. City officials want 23 percent each. County officials would like to award each city 13 percent, the same as they received last year. After that, White County voters will have to approve the proposed SPLOST in a November referendum.

All three governments have important projects they would like to fund.

The preliminary list of proposed county projects includes courthouse renovations and additions for an estimated $5 million, payment to the White County Building Authority for the new Yonah Preserve Park for $4.8 million and resurfacing and improvements to county roads and equipment for the Roads and Bridges Department for $3 million. Other county projects include E-911 and Fire-EMS equipment facilities and vehicles ($1.5 million) and Sheriff’s Office equipment, facilities and vehicles ($500,000).

The city of Cleveland’s proposed project list includes water and wastewater improvements, estimated at about $2.4 million, acquisition or improvement of public buildings, infrastructure improvements, parks and public recreation areas, public safety facilities and vehicles, road, street, bridge and sidewalk projects. Mayor Shan Ash estimates the cost of all those projects would be about $5.5 million.

Helen Mayor Jeff Ash said if Helen receives the 23 percent it is seeking, half of that would fund wastewater treatment. “We have 93 million gallons of sewage that has to be lifted and put in that pond (for treatment). We need a new lift station and those things aren’t cheap,” he told the Board of Commissioners recently.

Ash estimated that about half of White County’s overall revenue is tourist related, much of which is generated by Helen’s 2.5 million visitors each year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Commissioners approve project list for proposed 2020 SPLOST

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CLEVELAND, Ga. — White County commissioners approved a preliminary list of projects for a proposed 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) at Monday’s combined called meeting and work session.

The current SPLOST expires next year, and voters will decide in a referendum if they want to continue the one-cent tax through 2026.

Commissioners estimate the tax could generate $24,000,000 if approved. The preliminary list of proposed projects includes courthouse renovations and addition for an estimated $5 million, payment to the White County Building Authority for the new Yonah Preserve Park for $4,800,000 and resurfacing and improvements to county roads and equipment for the Roads and Bridges Department for $3,000,000.

Other projects include E-911 and Fire-EMS equipment, facilities and vehicles ($1.5 million), Administration equipment, facilities and vehicles ($1 million), Parks and Recreation equipment, facilities and vehicles ($1 million), and Sheriff’s Office equipment, facilities and vehicles ($500,000).

Counties can award cities a share of SPLOST proceeds based on each city’s population. The county is considering a 15 percent split for Cleveland and Helen. Both cities are requesting 23 percent.

The two cities each received 23 percent in previous SPLOSTs but both agreed to accept 13 percent in the current SPLOST in order to help the county pay for the new jail. About 50 percent of White County’s overall revenue is tourist related, much of which is generated by Helen’s 2.5 million visitors each year..

City managers and County Manager Michael Melton have agreed to meet Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to discuss the proposed SPLOST.

Cleveland Mayor Shan Ash asked commissioners to “look at the city as an investment in White County.”

He said the city is looking at a state-mandated lowering of the limit of water than can be discharged back into Lake Lanier. “Our biggest expense is going to be the sewer improvement that we know is coming,” he said. “We’re having to look at a more conventional system to get the limits they are going to require. We’ve got a lot of new business coming in. The city has a lot of potential to be a good driver for these (SPLOST) funds. I would just ask that you guys look at the city as an investment in White County.”

Ash noted that if the commissioners approve the 23 percent share as requested, the city’s proceeds would be about $5.5 million.

Helen City Councilman Jeff Ash said half of Helen’s SPLOST request is for wastewater treatment. “We need a new lift station and those things aren’t cheap. We have 93 million gallons of sewage that has to be lifted and put in that pond (for treatment).”

 

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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