Pickens commissioners talk water in February meeting

News

JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Commissioners could see major changes to its water system in February.

Two issues dealing with the subject will affect the county moving forward. However, many citzens may not see these changes right away. That is because the first issue is set to strengthen the county’s water back-up power system in emergencies, and the second will only affect rates for meters two inches or larger.

The county has secured an Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Generator Grant. According to a report the county heard in its work session, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) visited Pickens to view the water pump sites in the county. After going through paperwork and traveling across the county, GEMA has signed off on the grant and the county should receive the money, $185,115, by the end of February to move forward with adding a backup generator to another of the county’s water pumps to maintain water access through power outages in situations like storms, a tornado, or other disasters. The county is matching $24,000 in the project works for the grant.

Additionally, the representative from GEMA saw other sites to add five more generators to complete the backup power of the county’s water including one at the public works to help with concerns over the fuel depot. Having already taken the representative to these other locations could expedite the pre-application for grants on these other sites.

The other issue discussed at their work session focused on a rate increase being requested by the Pickens County Water & Sewer Authority to compensate for an increase in water drawn from a business in the area; however, the specific business was not disclosed. The increase is not going to every customer, rather only the large meters two inches and bigger. The increase comes on the heels of information that the one customer has been drawing, on average, 190,000 gallons of water per day.

The current look of the water rates, according to the county’s website, looks like this:

WATER RATES & METER FEES

¾ inch meter …… $36.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons .

1 inch meter……  $51.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons

2 inch meter……$66.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons

3 inch meter……$76.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons

4 inch meter……$81.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons

6 inch meter…. $111.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons

$5.00 per thousand above 1,000 up to 3,000 gallons

$6.00 per thousand above 3,000 up to 5,000 gallons

$7.00 per thousand above 5,000 gallons and above

FH meter…. $36.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons
$4.25 per thousand above 1,000 gallons

Since the county can only pull 280,000 gallons of water from Cherokee County per day, before incurring a heavy surcharge, to supplement the water usage, the Authority is requesting their rate increase. Currently, the top end rate stands at $7 per thousand for anything 5,000 and above, but the increase will change it to $7 per thousand from 5,000 to 10,000 gallons and $9 per thousand for anything 10,000 gallons and above.

Since it was a work session, neither item has had official action yet. Citizens still have the chance to speak with the board members at the regular scheduled meeting on the third Thursday of the month, February 15.

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Board of Commissioners August 2017 Meeting

News

Jasper, GA – The Board of Commissioners were excited to announce the approval of the new fire station in Pickens County off of Carlan Road. The county will be purchasing two acres for $13,500 per acre. Board Member Jerry Barnes states this is an ideal location.

Members approved the signing of the credit card resolution. This states that elected officials who have a credit card through the county are responsible for their own credit card accounts.This will hopefully prevent any unforeseen problems for the county.

The Board of Commissioners currently have two cards, the Sheriff’s Office has three cards, and the Magistrate Court has one card.

The Good Samaritan Clinic Construction contract was also signed to begin construction for an additional building at the clinic. This will allow for more space and care at the Good Samaritan. Cooper and Co. are moving forward with construction of the project.

Under old business the board signed the Capital Lease for new sheriff’s office vehicles. This will allow the purchase of ten more patrol vehicles. Our county SPLOST dollars will cover the expense.

The board discussed the approval of the Gilmer Water Agreement, allowing our two counties to connect water lines for purchasing or selling water to each other.

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.com

Protect Pickens Pets Confronts Board of Commissioners

News

JASPER, GA – Protect Pickens Pets and supporters filled the room at this month’s commissioner meeting. The group made plans to bring their concerns and requests to the board about the conditions at the animal shelter coming together after the firing of former shelter employee Judy Moody.

Before the meeting adjourned Commissioner Jones made the announcement that anyone with questions or comments could speak one at a time. Hands went up in the air one by one to speak on the situation of the shelter and Moody.

Lisa Kelly commented first,

I am concerned the animals are not being took care of. There is 11% left on the budget that could go towards the shelter. Why is the money not being spent? Feces are in cages and there are empty bowls. When you question the staff they say they are overwhelmed and understaffed.

Linda Ross followed asking,

Who is in charge of hiring? Do they have a background? Sanitation procedures need to be in place. It’s great to have volunteers, but that’s not enough. We need a better staff. The shelter conditions are bad.

Lori Taylor told Jones,

There is a networking to running a shelter. We can’t leave things how we are. We need a company that could deal with the dogs that some fear to help them. Chihuahuas bite more than pitbulls! You’re out of your league with us people. We need to make a committee with rules and regulations.

The members of the board were silent throughout most of the comments and this bothered supporters who came to hear an answer.

Board member Becky Denny spoke to the crowd,

I have been to the shelter and been pleased with it. Legally we can’t speak about an employee. I would be happy to go to the shelter and look around.

Commenters mentioned Denny has been the only one to come to the shelter.

As comments and questions kept coming, Commissioner Jones adjourned the meeting. FYN spoke with Judy Moody after the meeting closed for a statement. Moody replied with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi,

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Commissioner Jones also gave us a statement on how he felt the evening went,

I think it went really good and I believe some of the commenters have great ideas such as creating a board or committee for the shelter. I have had the shelter inspected by the Department of Agriculture and we received an A.

Protect Pickens Pets will be having a protest Monday, July 24 at 11:00 A.M. in the Burger King parking lot. They encourage all supporters to come out to the protest.

The group left this message on their page last night,

Sadly we attended the Pickens County Commissioners meeting last night to witness the painstaking process (sarcasm) of a new Pickens County Tax Assessor being selected. The commissioners discussed how this new candidate owned a Pickens County business with his father and the fact that a commissioner knew who he was. We learned that this new candidate just happened to be the son of the former Pickens County Tax Assessor who was stepping down from the position.
What was never discussed by the commissioners was this new candidate’s education level, experience, resume, his qualifications, or any other candidates that may have applied for this same position.
Now the person approved last night to be your new Pickens County Tax Assessor may very well be qualified. But this would be a simple roll of the dice as our fine commissioners certainly did not put forth any effort to guarantee this.
Is it too much to ask that a person appointed by our Pickens County Commissioners to decide how deep to reach into your pocket be competent to do the job?
How many other Pickens county officials are deciding the daily direction of the county and our lives with their only qualification being a Good Old Boy Certification of Approval?
Is it any wonder that the Pickens County Animal Shelter Directors have all been unqualified and completely inexperienced?
It’s time for a change!

FYN will follow this story as it progresses, or read “Animal Shelter Employee Fired” and “Animal Shelter Situation Escalates”.

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.com

Pickens County Board of Commissioners discuss senior property exemptions

News

The Pickens County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on October 20th and part of the agenda was talk of senior property exemptions.

Pickens County Board of Commission Chair Rob Jones said, “The discussion over the senior tax exemption has been heated!”  Jones went on to say, “I would like to know exactly what the cost or somewhere close for the taxpayer if the senior tax exemption goes in place.”

 

This is the current Local School Exemption – Persons age 62 or older with a combined total gross income of $25,000 or less from all sources of everyone living on the property qualify for a total exemption from School M&O taxes.   Even though the Pickens County School System’s millage rate is around 17 less than 12 is used in the Pickens County schools because of the reallocation to other areas.   According to County Attorney Phil Landrum,  a Pickens School Board member raised issue with the fairness of 6 million of Pickens County money being received by some counties  which are  granting senior exemption.  

Landrum went on to say, “It’s apples and oranges that’s not really the debate because we really do not have control over that but it is a consideration.” 

The decision was made to extend an invitation to the Board of Education to join in a joint discussion.  Landrum will write a letter to the Pickens Board of Education to invite them to begin a dialogue in the form of a meeting to discuss the exemption.   Landrum further stated he had not spoken with Georgia House State Representative Rick Jasperse but believed they would want resolutions from both County and City Governments to introduce the legislation to change the exemption.

Watch the discussion below:

All Georgia residents are eligible for homestead exemptions on their primary residence with the amount of the exemption varying in each county and sometimes also by city. These exemptions can generally save you a couple of hundred dollars a year or more, again depending on the county. Additional “Senior” exemptions (again for primary residences) are available that vary by county, in some cases starting as early as age 62 or as late as 70 this will make more sense as you get into the summaries for each county below.  When the exemptions apply to School taxes, the savings can be in the thousands! To apply for any exemptions, you must have lived in the home as of January 1 and if there is an age-related exemption, one person on the deed must be the specified age as of January 1.

Pickens BOC 10/6/16 Worksession

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Morning Monologue 5/9/16

Opinion

Chaos in Blue Ridge?

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Citizen Questions How Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss is Paid

Opinion

January 12, 2016

 

My name is Suzanne Kahn, and I’d like to first address the question that some citizens still have about exactly when our county contract finally expires with Advance Disposal Service. The court documents are clear cut that all permitted extensions of the contract by Advance Disposal have been used and the contract finally expires on August 25th, of this year, 2016.

 

I feel confident that our Post I and Post II Commissioners are on top of this situation and will take whatever steps are needed to negotiate and secure a contract with whatever company they deem will best serve our county with a fair, equitable, and competitive contract. And, I feel confident that they will have a contract in place well in advance of this expiration date.

 

Second, I want to address the years of concern of many citizens that Fannin County has had the same county attorney, Ms. Lynn Doss, for approximately twenty years, and, without ever having a contract of any kind in place.  This “ arrangement”, which is all it can be called, has been perpetuated endlessly by each Commission Chairman for the last three administrations of Richard Vollrath, Howie Bruce, and now  into the eighth year of the current administration  by Chairman Bill Simonds. 

 

I compared the policy of our two neighboring counties of Union and Gilmer to get a very clear picture, and I have all the documents from these counties to back up what I’m saying here.

 

Union and Gilmer Counties both have had legal contracts, or a Letter of Agreement, with their attorneys at all times, and both counties require complete accountability by mandating that their attorneys submit itemized invoices for every hour worked.  Neither county pays a retainer fee. In Union County, Attorney H. Boyd Pettit charges $100.00 per hour plus expenses. In Gilmer County, Attorneys Herman Clark and David Clark charge $110.00 and $100.00 per hour, respectively, plus expenses. 

In Fannin County, there has never been any contract or Letter of Agreement with Lynn Doss, and a significant retainer fee of $5,708.34 per month has been paid without any itemized invoices ever required or submitted for that $61,416.78 yearly check.

 

As a comparison: 

In 2014, Union County paid their attorney $23,874.00, and Gilmer paid $38,595.00.

In 2015, Union County paid their attorney only $8,811.00 and Gilmer paid $68,238.00.

 

 I also have the document showing the RESOLUTION that was passed by Gilmer County Board of Commissioners on March 12th, 2015, declaring their authority to appoint their attorney who “shall serve at the pleasure of the Board.”

 

To say that this Fannin County “arrangement” with Lynn Doss is highly questionable is a gross understatement.  The citizens of Fannin County want and deserve an explanation of why this “arrangement” has been permitted all these years.  I request, Mr. Simonds, that you explain 

how you have justified this through your entire 7 years as our Chairman, and now into your 8th year at the helm. 

 

I have spoken with many Fannin County Citizens who are equally fed up with this perceived stranglehold Attorney Lynn Doss has been afforded for so many years with absolutely no accountability. It is way beyond time for a healthy change in who is welcomed to work as our county attorney. 

 

Mr. Simonds, I sincerely had high hopes that, after last year’s events of our two Post Commissioners successfully making the first few important changes to our county government, you would finally see the wisdom of helping to ethically and morally work with them to make the many changes still necessary to make Fannin County one that is respected for it’s high standards of operation. You can still do that.

 

If you choose not to, I have complete confidence in Post Commissioners Sosebee and Johnson to be the leaders we need to guide Fannin County with integrity.

 

 

Thank you,

 

Suzanne Kahn

 

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