White County commissioners grapple with short-term rental issues during Tuesday’s called meeting

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Short-term rentals have become a booming industry, forecast to reach $23 billion in the U.S. by 2022.  The rise in popularity has left governments struggling with how to regulate rentals, rental operators and neighborhood activists.

White County commissioners spent one hour in a special called meeting Tuesday morning, wrestling with what is a much more complex issue than it may seem on the surface. County staff is charged with drafting regulations for short-term rentals. Tuesday’s meeting was called so commissioners could provide some direction.

Commission Chairman Travis Turner expressed the difficulty of regulating short-term rentals, saying, “I’ve gone from one extreme to another trying to find a common-sense middle ground.”

On the one hand, those who would like to rent rooms in their home on a short-term basis argue they have a right to use their property as they see fit. On the other, their neighbors counter that kind of activity can affect security in the neighborhood as well as property values.

Commissioner Edwin Nix said, “I’ve probably put more thought into this than anything since we started land use. It is our responsibility and the citizens of this county are looking to us to protect their interests. One thing I would want if I lived in a subdivision is to know who my neighbor was each night. This commissioner would almost vote not to allow this in a subdivision. Period.”

Nix advised staff to pay attention to health issues in drafting regulations. “You’ve got health issues when drafting criteria,” he said “Are (rentals) on public water? Are they on well water? Is the sewage system designed to handle what they are doing?”

There are also licensing issues, insurance issues, parking issues and zoning issues to be addressed.

County Manager Michael Melton said, “What we need to know from the Board is do you want this regulated under land use or do you want it regulated under a permit system?”

Commissioner Terry Goodger pointed out that Hall County and the City of Savannah are struggling with the same issues and they have left it under land use.

Board voted unanimously to have staff draft a stand-alone ordinance and present it to the Board in two weeks for review.

 

 

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Kemp Bus Tour stops at Truett McConnell Tuesday

News, Politics

CLEVELAND, Ga. – Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp’s “Road to Victory” bus tour visited the campus of Truett McConnell University, a Christian liberal arts and sciences school in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains, Tuesday morning.

Following morning chapel service led by Anthony George, senior associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, in the beautiful George Blaurock Student Wellness Center, Kemp briefly addressed students and staff and delivered a message of faith and hope.

The Republican candidate for governor said, “I know God has a plan for our family and I’m just here living It out. We’re going to know shortly what that plan is and we’re trusting in the Lord every single day. That is giving me a lot of peace in my heart. Its people of faith – in a lot of ways – this campaign is about.”

Kemp said he was encouraged to see how many young people are interested in the campaign.

“I’m optimistic that we see a lot of young people all over our state that are interested in who their leaders are going to be. They want good government. They want to have good opportunities and that’s why I’m running, so my kids and you all and your kids, one day, will have all the same opportunities that I have had.”

Many government heavy-hitters at both the state and local level were on hand to show their support for Kemp, who will face Democrat Stacey Abrams and Libertarian Ted Metz in next Tuesday’s election.

Governor Nathan Deal told attendees he is aware that politics has a bad rap but he said, “The truth of the matter is our great nation is based on the idea we are not just a democracy. We are a republic in which people have the right to elect their leaders. If those leaders do not reflect the moral values that our nation should have, our nation will not remain strong.”

Other leaders who visited with Kemp included, Congressman Doug Collins, State Senator Steve Gooch and White County commissioners Travis Turner, Terry Goodger and Edwin Nix.

 

 

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 Borrow from Fund Balance to Erase a $1.06 Million Budget Shortfall

News

Commissioner Edwin Nix

CLEVELAND, Ga. – Shocked by a tax digest that produced only slightly more revenue than it did a year ago and faced with a budget shortfall of $1.06 million, the White County Board of Commissioners elected to keep the millage rate at 9.998 mils, essentially kicking the can down the road for another year when another shortfall is likely.

Keeping the millage rate the same will require three public hearings and commissioners voted to hold two hearings on August 3, one at 8 a.m., the other at 6 pm. The third hearing is set for Aug. 14 at 4:30 p.m.

Commissioner Terry Goodger

The vote to leave the millage rate unchanged was 3-2 with Commissioners Lyn Holcomb, Edwin Nix and Craig Bryant in support and Chairman Travis Turner and Commissioner Terry Goodger opposed.

Goodger proposed a one mil increase but that died for the lack of a second. He then proposed a half-mil increase that was seconded by Turner, but failed to attract the three votes necessary for passage.

Surprised by the fact that the current digest produced only $8,700,101, or approximately $65,000 more than last year, Nix asked County Manager Michael Melton, “On the net digest increase, that is a numerical mistake isn’t it?”

Melton assured him the figure was correct.

To erase the shortfall, commissioners will pull about $1.065 out of the county’s fund balance, leaving only enough to operate the county for 2.3 months in case of an emergency. The Association County Commissioners of Georgia recommends that counties keep enough money in the fund balance to operate the county for three months.

“I’m not comfortable with a 2.3 month balance myself,” Goodger said. “That could affect our bond rating in the long term. We are certainly much stronger with a three-month reserve.” If the bond rating is downgraded, it will mean paying a higher interest rate to finance capital projects.

Turner agreed with Goodger. “We’ve always tried to keep a three-month reserve. We need to do our best to get back to that…2.3 months is a little too skinny for my taste.”

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. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.co

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County Holds First Hearing on Millage Increase

News

CLEVELAND, Ga. — White County Commissioners held the first public hearing 2017 millage rate Monday morning and may have been surprised by what they heard from the lone public speaker.

To balance the FY 2017 budget, commissioners have proposed a millage increase of .83 mils TO 9.998 mils and a $590,000 reduction in the county’s reserves. That reduction will leave the county with a fund balance of only about 2.8 months to deal with emergencies. The Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) recommends that counties keep a minimum of three months in reserves.

Cleveland resident Jimmy O’Neill said three months of reserves is not enough and that the average Georgia county keeps 5-6 months in reserves. Therefore, he would like commissioners to consider a larger tax increase.

“I’m asking you to stick it to me,” O’Neill said, “Those who never want to raise the millage rate do not understand economics.” O’Neill, who said he has a background in economics, added, “Take the hit now because it’s going to be worse later.”

O’Neill said the Board is being penny-wise and pound foolish in not raising the millage rate more. “You either raise the millage rate to where it needs to be or screw over county employees who will leave and go where the pay is better.”
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, O’Neill said, it’s better to raise the millage rate and pay employees competitive wages than to train them and have them go to neighboring counties to work then have to train their replacements.

“Training employees, particularly those in the Sheriff’s Office, is very expensive,” he said.

Commissioner Terry Goodger proposed a slightly higher millage rate than 9.998 at the last meeting and was supported by Chairman Travis Turner, but the motion was defeated 2-3.

County Manager Michael Melton gave the millage rate presentation and pointed out the millage rate stayed at 9.19 mills from 2008 to 2014 and was lowered to 9.168 two years ago.

The increased millage rate means the owner of a $300,000 home would pay about $99.60 in increased taxes.

The next public hearing on the millage increase will be Thursday at 8 a.m. with the final hearing set for Aug. 8 at 6 p.m.

The Board also authorized the Fire Department to purchase a used tanker for $42,000.

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Two New Candidates Meet Qualifying Deadline

News, Politics

CLEVELAND, Ga. — Two new candidates were added to the list of qualifiers for the May 24, 2016 primary election Friday in White County. Shawn Henderson will run for County Commission in Dist. 4 and Ronald Hood will run for County Commission in Dist. 1.

Coroner Candidate
Ricky Barrett

Sheriff Candidate
Neal Walden

Aaron Autry

Tax Commissioner Candidate
Cindy Cannon

County Commissioner Dist. 1 Candidate
Terry Goodger

Ronald Hood

County Commission Dist. 4 Candidate

Shawn Henderson

Commission Chairman Candidate

Joe R. Campbell
Travis Turner

Superior Court Clerk Candidate
Dena Adams

School Board Dist. 1

Jon Estes

School Board District 3 Candidate
Charlie Thomas

Probate Judge Candidate
Garrison Baker

School Board Chairman Candidate
Kendyl Brock

Chief Magistrate Candidate
Joy Parks

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