JASPER, Ga. – A full extra mil on taxes, that is what citizens could expect if no cuts are made to the over $1.1 million difference between the 2018 and 2019 budgets for the Sheriff’s office.
The difference accrues over a loss of revenue including an end to the housing inmates from Sandy Springs in the Pickens Detention Center as well as $448,043 increases in the Sheriff’s Administration, Uniform Patrol, Detention Center, and School Resource Officers areas alone.
Although the budget already had at least one point ready to cut as it covered two contingencies involving either continuing overtime pay for certain staff or hiring new employees to spread the work among them. Craig noted there are 11 openings in the office that he is seeking to fill.
Like the other offices and departments, the Sheriff’s Office is seeking the 2.5% increase in salaries for employees. There are other increases such as repairs and maintenance in the office as Craig says some of the older cruisers are showing their age, with some vehicles dating back to 1996.
While the county is attempting to push some of the costs like newer vehicles among other things into the county’s next SPLOST cycle, there are many things that Craig said need immediate attention. He also noted that many of the increases involve things the Sheriff’s Office can’t control saying, “I can’t cut employees, and I can’t cut the services we have.”
He also noted increases to the demands on the office including 37,000 in call volume in this year alone. He said there hasn’t been a major increase in staffing in recent years despite doubling the call volume in the last decade.
Plans for an additional School Resource Officer and upgrading computer systems are just a small part of the changes coming. But citizens need not wait until next year to see them beginning as December will see the office going live with the upgraded Caliber System. Next year will see the $117,965 payment for the system, though.
As the Board of Commissioners are still working on the budgets, the Sheriff’s Office is working along with them to deeper analyze the office’s revenue and expenses. Chairman Jones did note that he believed the county could handle up to a $300,000 increase in the budget without needing to change the millage rate.
FYN reached out to Chairman Jones to ask when the last time a major increase like this occurred in the county’s budget. He replied saying that the county raised the Sheriff’s budget three years ago by about $700,000 to cover inadequate salaries.
If approved as is, the Sherriff’s budget will reach $7,092,649. For comparison, Pickens’ northern neighbors, Gilmer County’s Sheriff’s Budget is proposed for 2019 to total $5,673,394, that’s $1,419,255 less for a county of similar size and population.
However, this is still early in the budget process for Pickens County. As both the Board of Commissioners and the Sheriff’s Office have agreed to continue working on the budget, citizens can continue to stay informed through the county’s work session, Thursday, November 1, and special called meetings that may arise in the coming month.
One thing to note as talks continue and a final budget is set. Though discussed and agreed to under the county budget meetings, it is ultimately the Sheriff’s budget and responsibility as the elected official in 2019.
JASPER, Ga. – As part of his 27-day bus tour, Georgia Governor candidate Brian Kemp stopped at the Appalachian Gun, Pawn, and Range to visit locals and connect with Georgians during his campaign.
Kemp stated about the tour, “We’ve been having to really work hard on our fundraising to offset the billionaires in California and New York that are funding my opponent’s campaign. We’ve done that. Now, we’re hitting the road and we’re going to keep moving …”
Stopping into his Pickens location a little after 10 a.m., Kemp was joined by U.S. Congressman Doug Collins, State Senator Steve Gooch, and State Representative Rick Jasperse, who all spoke on his behalf at the stump speech. Additionally, State Senator Chuck Payne was also present.
Even local Pickens County Commission Chairman Rob Jones attended the event as he said yes he is officially supporting Kemp saying, “He knows where we are at, he knows who we are, and he knows what kind of support we’ve got here.”
Gooch welcomed citizens to the event and called for support for electing Republicans across the state offices, spearheaded with Brian Kemp’s campaign for Governor saying, “We all have to get our families, our friends, and our selves to the polls and elect these good conservatives that are running.”
Jasperse added to the call to get more people to the polls saying that the next four weeks needed hard work to get those not present at the rally to vote as well. “We’ve got to have all of us joining hands to elect our next governor… to make sure that we elect a great Georgian who is going to reflect our values.”
Collins also spoke at the event. Building up the crowd, he called the legislation in Washington D.C. a fight in need of help from the country saying, “It’s got to start at home… I don’t want to know what you would have done on November 7. I don’t want to know who you would have called on November 7. I want to start today and say how many of you are willing to text people today, on October 1, and say, ‘Voting is coming up, I need you to go vote for Brian Kemp.'”
Kemp called Georgia politics a fight as well since he is running against a radical. Quoting his campaign slogan to “Put Georgians First,” Kemp spoke about cutting regulations and aiding the small businesses like his hosts, Appalachian Gun, Pawn, and Range. He said he wanted to lower Georgia’s taxes as opposed to his opponent’s plan “to raise your taxes even though she hasn’t paid her own.”
Saying it is not Georgia’s values that she holds, he said he wants to continue the work that the senators and representatives that were at the rally with him have started.
Kemp attacked Abrams’ plans for big government in education saying, “She believes in more government education, more mandates, more big government programs that don’t work. She wants to do away with SSO Scholarships, she wants to do away with private pre-K providers, and she wants to give the Hope Scholarship to non-citizens. That is not what we want.”
Kemp instead advocated for local control, school choice, and better education funding as he noted that for the first time ever, the QBE program has been funded.
Kemp also attacked the healthcare programs saying that she ultimately wants a single-payer government run healthcare system and a three-fold increase in taxes to pay for it. Kemp opposed the program saying, “We need private sector solutions to create a better market, to lower costs on healthcare.”
Calling on those present to help the campaign and urge others to vote, Kemp said, “The stakes have never been higher. We are literally battling the socialists and the radical left from all over this country. They are pouring money into this race. But they can’t vote, and you can.”
He colloquially told people to “put some more gas in that chainsaw. Get your ax and your mattock out, and keep chopping wood.”
He said the race isn’t a foregone conclusion, calling the other side motivated. Kemp urged his voters and supporters to be more motivated saying, “If you turned out here for the presidential election to elect Donald Trump, we need you to turn out here to elect Brian Kemp.”
The event turned out over 400 people to hear Kemp speak and support the campaign. One citizen, Dianne Traynham, said she was there because she was interested in what Kemp has said and his support for rural Georgia. She added that her daughter is a teacher and Kemp’s pledge to take care of the state’s teachers was a major reason for her support.
Another citizen, Brandi Dean, said she “absolutely, 100%” voted for Kemp in the primary, and wants to do it again. She added that Kemp is not afraid to share his Christian values and morals and is not afraid to put them out there. Sharing those same values, she was excited to see him in Pickens County.
Both women said that visiting Pickens county specifically was meaningful and showed that he recognized how important the rural counties are in the election.
Wrapping up the speeches, a special presentation was held as Ralph and Kim Fitts, owners of Appalachian Gun, Pawn, and Range, presented Kemp with a Smith & Wesson Governor, a snub-nosed revolver. In celebration of Kemp’s visit, Kim Fitts said they would be sending the gun into Smith & Wesson to have “Governor Brian Kemp” engraved on the barrel of the gun.
For more photos from the event, visit the FetchYourNews Facebook Page.
JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Jones met with members of the community April 17 to officially sign the county’s proclamation declaring April “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”
The proclamation urges “all citizens to observe this month by becoming aware of the reality and tragedy of sexual assault, and by supporting the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network in its efforts to end sexual violence and exploitation.”
Joined in support at the meeting, Kerri Henderson, Pickens County supervisor for the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Shelly Cantrell, Student Services for Pickens County Schools, showed just a small portion of the network of support the Crisis Network has established to answer the need for those victimized. Elaine Cannon, interim executive director at the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, said the community that makes up the supporting organizations are the key to taking care of those in need.
Proclamations like this one from county and city governments show the official and legal face of supporting the cause as the “awareness” that becomes part of shepherding those in need to those who can help, but also in keeping the Crisis Network open with official support when they seek grants and funding to continue their work.
Another part of the network’s need for awareness, Cannon explained that some victims may not come forward for care due to stigma or fear. Explaining the options for victims and those who just need an advocate in a time of shock or confusion and others needing guidance and support going through investigations or medical care is something that these people may not realize. Catering to every need from a retreat, shelter, or support in a court case, the network continues to build upon the entire support structure to continue, without interruption, to provide for the people they help.
Cannon told FetchYourNews, “If we can work together that way, it ensures that the people get a more broad arena of services … Of course, none of us can provide everything they need all the time, but together we can.”
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.
The Pickens County held its regular board meeting on March 17th 2016. The Board signed the Keep Pickens Beautiful Proclamation.
FYN would like to remind everyone that April is old tire month where each household can take up to four old tires to the landfill for free during the month. April was designated as Great American Clean up month. Keep Pickens Beautiful will be celebrating its 27 years in existence.
The Board also signed the Georgia County Internship Program Grant Agreement by and between the ACCG and Pickens County. The Grant will pay an intern up to 200 hours at $10 per hour for work performed between May 1st 2016 and September 1, 2016. This is at no cost to the county. The intern will help in the Planning and Development office. This is the 2nd year Pickens County has received this grant.
Two rezone requests were approved with both coming to the Commission Board with 7-0 approval and recommendation from the Planning Commission. Both properties are located on Carlan Road in Jasper. The first rezone request by Bryan and Misty Johnson will allow the property to be used for beef cattle. The second rezone request will allow for the owner to clear property to build a home.
The Board also moved to allow Commission Chair Rob Jones to research security cameras for the Administration Building. Jones said he would bring the information back to the Board before making final decision on the cameras.
Per Commissioner Jones Pickens County Government Offices will be closing today, Friday, January 22nd, at 12:00 noon.
With the May 20 primary looming on the horizon, one area that doesn’t require a weighing of platforms and beliefs is the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax). While phase one of the SPLOST closes, tax payers have the option to continue the tax into the second phase which will encompass many areas in the county that are in desperate need of attention. (more…)