JASPER, Ga. – Final approval came this month for the 2020 Operating Budget with the Jasper CIty Council’s transition to the new year.
The Council unanimously approved the operating budget resolution having gone through proposal, public hearings, and regular meetings.
The All Funds total revenue is $10,937,353. That is $1,079,390 less than 2019’s total $12,016,743. This total includes the General Revenue of the city, but also other sources such as the SPLOST, Hotel/Motel Tax, Water Fund, Solid Waste Fund, and Municipal Court Fund among others.
The General Revenue of Governmental Funds totals $4,680,032 with the budget balanced. This fund is also down from 2019’s $5,048,658 ($368,636 less).
Additionally, many departments are carrying the decrease including the largest departments of the Police Department at $1,365,266 (2019 – $1,410,181) and Fire Department at $1,159,810 (2019 – $1,220,937).
In fact, only three departments increased, Legislative at $117,313 (2019 – $94, 626), Animal Control at $43,921 (2019 – $37,735), and Planning and Zoning at $133,324 (2019 -$49,802).
However, with this budget approved, only four members of the council will operate under this budget as Tony Fountain and Mayor John Weaver are leaving this year.
Mayor Weaver is retiring after 27 years of service in the city, having not sought re-election. He will be succeeded in January by Mayor-elect Steve Lawrence.
JASPER, Ga. – Concerns arose within the city council meetings regarding an item on the agenda to sublet property.
As the city considers leases on the parks and its continuing relationship with JYSA, more confusion is mounting around what the city can and cannot do with the property. One idea is to sublease the property in favor of having an entity control and manage it for the city.
City Attorney Bill Pickett said, “My gut reaction is no. I don’t know if we have the authority to do that. Cities of population of more than 300,000 people have specific statutory authority in order to lease parks… These are the taxpayers of the City of Jasper that own this. This would alienate the property and take us out of the loop and not have control of our own destination. It will violate the insurance and it could waive sovereign immunity.”
Much of the issue seems to revolve around scheduling events and public use with citizens wishing to use the fields with the options now pointing to continuing with JYSA or having the city take over for planning and scheduling of these events. This was noted as Jasper City Mayor John Weaver summarized the issue saying that years ago, the parks were an effort to provide inexpensive recreation for local citizens. This included a league of local counties. Now, however, the league is not around anymore, but no effort has been made to create travel teams. However, other travel teams around the area are wanting to use the park facilities.
Weaver went on to say, “At this point, JYSA may have run its course with the City of Jasper. And it needs to be brought back under the umbrella of the city council and our staff to decide who gets to use the facilities instead of having people that we don’t know schedule our fields. We have the potential to do that.”
Weaver said he thought the travel teams would come under JYSA, but now the coaches and teams are not controlled by that organization. As independent teams, Weaver suggested the city needs to control those teams scheduled uses of the fields.
Councilmember Sonny Proctor questioned if the city could charge teams to use the fields as part of the city hosting tournaments.
Weaver said they probably could but may need some more insurance or similar needs.
The need to control scheduling comes so that citizens who may wish to use the fields as they meet up with friends could access the field when no events were scheduled. A governing body to control that schedule would provide that singular schedule to be abided and to have the fields vacated for those events.
The City Council ultimately decided to table the issue this month as they continue looking deeper into JYSA, the parks, and the city’s next steps.
JASPER, – The City Council is moving forward with ordinance changes and zoning issues in July with approvals for 2nd readings and zoning parcels.
The second reading for the new cruelty to animals ordinance and a second reading for changes to definitions and uses for Vape Shops were both approved in July’s meeting. As the second reading both have officially taken effect within the city now.
Additionally, Jasper Citizen Brad Dilbeck opened discussion with the zoning and uses in Mountain City Business Park. Nearly nineteen years old, Dilbeck said the occupants mostly focus on industrial, manufacturing, or distribution on the C2 zoning. The issue for Dilbeck comes as he owns eight parcels in the park and wishes to build on the four he has not already used.
Dilbeck requested the city discuss and consider changing the zoning to more closely resemble what he sees as the vast majority of its usage.
Jasper Mayor John Weaver noted that some issues that might arise with commercial and industrial intertwined such as heavy commercial traffic interrupting employees or delivery trucks or likewise heavy trucks used in industrial work mixing into small vehicle traffic on a smaller road.
Dilbeck said he wanted to have the zoning change for himself as well so he could build correctly with manufacturing which is not allowed in C2 zoning as well as should he need to change tenants on current property. The “incorrect” label, according to Dilbeck, causes issues with his plans for growth and construction.
Councilmember Dr. Sonny Proctor suggested the city take time to investigate root causes and take assessments on current usage in the area so they could understand and adjust accordingly.
Weaver also said he wanted a public hearing for the changes to allow other property owners to speak as well. Dilbeck agreed with the process saying it was reasonable to go through the usual zoning process.
JASPER, Ga. – The Jasper Police Department is asking the city for more guidance and direction on its cruelty to animals ordinance as the agenda item came up this week during the council’s meeting.
According to Lonnie Waters of the City of Jasper, the city has already received calls this year about animals locked in vehicles in the heat of the day. This issue was addressed last year with an amendment to regulate this action if the outside temperature is over 70 degrees.
Wanting wording to add fines to a maximum to the violation of this amendment, the police were seeking the council’s input and approval to make an addition saying, “A violation of section 14-12 shall carry of maximum penalty of a fine of…” With no specific amount set in their proposal, the city was left to set a maximum.
Jasper Mayor John Weaver asked the council to set a fine with regards to the differences between city and superior courts saying, “I think we should allow people to plead guilty to a Cruelty to Animals by leaving in the car when they run into the Walmart, so that we can deal with them in the courts of Jasper, Georgia, instead of making it so extensive that they don’t want to deal with us. They want to take it to Superior Court.”
The city approved a motion to set fines at $50 for first offense, $100 for second offense, and $150 for third offense. With this new addition, citizens who may make a mistake of this nature will face the $50 fine for violation. However, repeat offenders will face harsher fines.
Extreme cases and death of animals are separated according to Police Chief Greg Lovell who said during the meeting that animal deaths would still require their own response.
JASPER, Ga. – Jasper saw the presentation of the 2018 Audit for both the City and Chamber during the June City Council meeting with reports for each.
Presented by Rushton and Company, CPA’s, the Audit held an unmodified opinion for the city, meaning Rushton did not have to change or alter anything with their opinion and the financial records.
Ending the year of 2018, Rushton’s presentation reported $530,252 of “Revenues over Expenditures.”
The report also noted the city could currently operate about one-third of the year on their fund balance. Council member Dr. Sonny Proctor questioned the fund balance asking if the city was in a “healthy” spot with that operational buffer in the fund balance. To which the city was told that many cities only have one to two months of operational balance, so Jasper would be better than many of those cities.
The report also presented an internal controls opinion. With no material weakness, the presentation did note a comment on a “significant deficiency” with regards to segregation of duties. While Rushton’s representative did say that he felt the two people handling the alchohol licenses were doing a great job, the standards would suggest three employees. He also noted that he didn’t expect the city to change this, but the note was put into the audit.
As the city gives money to the Picken’s County Chamber of Commerce, the city also heard an audit presentation for their funds in the Chamber. The report stated that Rushton and Company found the expenditures were properly spent and spent during the proper timeline.
The report did note that they found one note as the city noted no written policy on allocation percentages for joint costs. While they tested the funds and found the allocations reasonable, they simply thought that having a written policy could improve upon the area.
JASPER, Ga. – Citizens are still in confusion about a sign appearing at the Shops of Jasper announcing “Adult Entertainment” coming soon.
According to City Manager Brandon Douglas, the City has no application or permitting for an adult entertainment business or signage at this location. He went on to note the property owner has also told him he has no intent to pursue this kind of business.
Douglas said that the City has reached out to the property owner about the sign and has received acknowledgment about the sign and it will be coming down. While no fine or official action is being taken because of this acknowledgment, Douglas said the city will be following up with the property owner if the sign does not come down.
As for the possibility of an Adult Entertainment type of business, the city does have zoning where it could be allowed, but Douglas said it is restricted to industrial areas and is also listed as a conditional use permit. This means that if a business like this would be created, it would have to go through zoning and come before the Mayor and City Council for approval. Douglas assures citizens that this type of business would be well advertised, as all conditional use permits are, well in advance of the business opening.
JASPER, Ga. – With roughly 25 years of the annual Fish Rodeo, the city is preparing once again for this beloved event.
The Council heard the required request, and subsequently approved, for the Pickens County Sportsman Club Annual Fish Rodeo this month to allow the event in May. Sportsman Club representative Walt Cagle offered fliers to the council as he presented the request. The four-day event will see support for the community, special needs, and senior homes in the area.
Mayor John Weaver called the rodeo “a very special event” in recent years as it has been about a decade at the Cove Creek location. Cagle notes the wired off location will provide stock trout for all who wish to participate. He went on to say that the event not only serves Pickens County, but all who wish to attend and he evens sees response from senior homes in Cherokee.
The council officially provided the proclamation needed for the event to have the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to close off the creek for the event.
Cagle provided the following flier for the council and citizens for information on the event:
JASPER, Ga. – April’s expenses for the Jasper City Council are on the rise as they approve purchases and bids alongside an approval for over $100,000 for the Cove Road incident.
These purchases came from three different departments looking to update equipment for the coming spring months.
The Jasper Police Department sought approval, and received it, from the council for $33,900 for a new vehicle. According to Police Chief Greg Lovell, the need comes after several issues in the fleet including two cars in the shop for repairs and the Explorer being totaled after an accident in January. The new truck, Lovell said, will is coming from Ronnie Thompson Ford.
The Water Department requested funding for rebuilding three lift station pumps in the city from Highway 108 to Piedmont Mountainside Hospital. Water Superintendent David Hall spoke to the council about the builds with three different prices. The total cost for all three comes to $32,136.28. The first pump is $7,825.04. The second needs an internal part replaced as well, making the cost $10,634.90. The third pump needs the part replaced and a bearings replaced, making the cost $13,676.34.
Hall said the department already has moved other pumps in the city to cover the need that these pumps served, but this reduces the efficiency more each day. However, these pumps have served this need since 2002, according to Hall. With 17 years behind them before needing the rebuilds, Council member Tony Fountain noted that he hoped to get another 15 years out of these now.
A third purchase request came from the budgeted purchase of a zero turn lawnmower for the street department as the move into spring and prepare to for the maintenance needed. City Manager Brandon Douglas told the council that the city has received bids for the lawnmower. Goss Equipment’s bid was for $11,886.20 for a Grasshopper brand. Nelson Tractor Company’s bid was $12,615 for a Kubota brand. Ag-Pro $13,649.99 for a John Deere brand. Rolling Tire’s bid was for $13,000. Mason Tractor Company’s bid was for $12,526. The council approved Goss Equipment, the low bid, for their Grasshopper brand lawnmower. Fountain clarified with Douglas about the servicing program for the equipment. Douglas confirmed that Goss said the would work and provide for the needs saying that even if they had to outsource the work, they would provide a replacement available immediately for the needs of the city.
The council is also honoring a local citizen, Kyle Brock, with an official resolution to name the city dog park after him. Utility Development Planned Lonnie Waters presented the request to the council for a small marble plaque in honor of the service provided. The council quickly approved the request and pushed further to have Brock come before the council to receive the plaque so that they might further recognize the hard work and dedication he has provided to the animals of the community.
JASPER, Ga. – Citizens of Jasper listened as Mayor John Weaver offered updates on proposals and plans for the Cove Road rockslide recovery.
The council addressed the rockslide with information from City Manager Brandon Douglas who said the city has retained the services of Geostabilization Engineering for stabilization and repairs from the rockslide. Douglas said that the Thursday, the firm offered a proposal to stabilize and ensure safety in the area.
The proposal would present a 6-day period of operations for the cost of $95,000. Douglas said they employed a third-party firm to vet the proposal. This third-party did confirm the competitiveness of the proposal according to Douglas.
However, the contract came under question by City Attorney Bill Pickett who pointed out that any disputes about action or inaction in violation of the contract would require the city to go to Colorado, the home state of the company, to sue or pursue legal action against the company.
Though this is an “if” situation, meaning it would only be needed if the company does not live up to the contract. However, Douglas countered saying that his understanding was that this point of the contract was open to negotiation.
Another contention point came as the $95,000 is not a set price. The proposal is based on site investigations, but if additional work is needed, then additional costs would be incurred.
Mayor Weaver noted that he felt much of the danger of the specific area of Cove Road was taken out by the slide. While stabilization is needed, Weaver said he felt there were much more dangerous areas nearby this site on Cove Road. Douglas said that the six-day period would allow the company to address additional nearby areas without incurring additional “mobilization costs.” This means that if Geostabilization Engineering secures the area’s safety in two or three days, the City can have them move on to the additional areas of danger on the road.
Addressing the rockslide directly, Weaver said, “You can drive the road today. They cleaned it up the next day. But what they’re worried about is your safety because if you’d been on the road when that rock fell… What you’re worrying about is how fast we can get it done. So, that’s the issues that the administration is going to be working with, but there is a lot of issues to be worked out.”
Weaver went on to note that funding and taxpayers are in his consideration as he wants to go seek emergency funds from the state and federal government as well as other agencies who could help. He said he wants citizens to consider that they are working on the area to provide safety for those who are traveling on the road. He does not want to have a phone call one day of somebody being crushed by another landslide as they were driving.
City Councilmember Tony Fountain said that he wants to have the city sleep at night knowing they have done everything they can.
However, the city must also consider, as Weaver later said, once the city begins any work on the area, it becomes a city liability. Weaver stated that because of this liability, the city is going to take its time in the process to get each “stamp of approval” they need to ensure the safety of all who utilize the road.
He went on to say it isn’t going to be a cheap and quick fix, but asked for patience as they continue along this project.
The council did approve ‘up to $120,000’ in a motion from Councilmember Kirk Raffield and a second from Councilmember Anne Sneve. This motion will allow the city manager to move forward with negotiations on the proposal and finalizing details on the contract. The final vote came to 4-0 with John Foust abstaining as he said he could be part of crews working on power lines in the area.
Weaver noted afterward that he is shocked that more landslides haven’t occurred with all the rain and snow and weather the city has suffered in the last year. As such, he is more worried about other dangers in the area than the recent slide that has already taken away much of that spots danger.
JASPER, Ga. – The City of Jasper is issuing a boil water advisory for citizens as they have experienced a water line rupture.
According to authorities, the rupture has occurred in the area of Talking Rock Road. With the city responding to the issue, they are working quickly to fix the issue.
However, even with the water line fixed, they are issuing a BOIL WATER ADVISORY for the next 48 hours. The advisory is in effect for the area of Chastain Place to 5015 Talking Rock Road.
JASPER, Ga. – Several issues have mounted up on the Jasper Fire Department in the last month.
The issues are also mounting into a major budget issue for the city as they seek repair Fire Engine #2 from engine troubles and deal with an unbudgeted Fire Interface Purchase. Both of the issues come amid a new vehicle purchase for the Fire Department as well.
While the Council did agree that the engine repairs could be covered as Chief Steve Roper suggested he had a few projects that he could put off until next year in order to pay for the major issue of the repair, including a driveway repair and a painting project.
As the Fire Engine requires an “in-frame repair” as Roper called it, the need could cost nearly $30,000 if the engine block needs to be fully rebuilt. However, Roper also said there is a chance the issue could be a smaller issue needing a gasket replacement costing $7,500.
The council approved up to $30,000 for the repairs to come from the line items of the other projects.
However, this was not the biggest issue the Fire Department saw as the next item on the agenda listed a 911 Interface Purchase.
Roper informed the council that the department has been in process of establishing a Computer Assisted Dispatch interface since 2018 and has seen stalls throughout last fall and winter. This system was picked up again this year with a total cost of $18,120.
The interface, according to Roper, will allow all information that 911 has taken into the system and dumps the information into Ipads for users to instantly access the information, history, and conditions among other things. This not only accumulates and accesses this information, but cuts down on radio traffic and aids in reporting for the city as well.
However, the $15,120 has been spent to proceed with this project, but was not budgeted in the 2019 budget. Jasper City Councilmember Anne Sneve clarified in the meeting that it was budgeted at one point but postponed. Having never returned to the budget, the City is now facing the $18,120 unbudgeted expense and seeking a way to cover the cost.
Roper said that he had a conversation with the City Manager, Jim Looney at the time, earlier this year about the project and its importance to the city overall. He said, “He gave me the go ahead to proceed with the project, and that’s where I am right now.”
While Jasper City Councilmember Tony Fountain noted that if the engine issue comes in to cost $7,500, they could could use the remaining funds to cover the $18,120 for the interface system, he also questioned what the city would do to respond if the engine took the entire $30,000.
Mayor John Weaver offered his opinion saying, “I think we need to give a stern reprimand that we did not know that we had approval for a $18,120 item before this council.”
Jim Looney was present at the meeting and took responsibility for the mistake as he said his understanding was that it was budgeted, but has now discovered it was not.
As the council moves forward, they are still seeking funds to cover the expense in case the engine repairs monopolized the excess funds from the canceled Fire Department projects.
JASPER, Ga. – The City Council is already preparing for elections season as they met on January 7, 2019.
According to their official release;
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. §21-2-131 (a)(1), the following qualifying fees for candidates seeking office in 2019 were set by the Mayor and Council of the City of Jasper at the January 7, 2019 regular council meeting:
JASPER, Ga. – The City Council is continuing to see dissension among the ranks as a disagreement has now arisen about organizational meeting appointments.
As the January meeting reached item “VI. Organizational Meeting,” Council member Dr. Sonny Proctor stated he wanted more information on these appointments saying, “I think the council should have prior knowledge of who the appointments are, what the duties are. We need to make sure that we educate them to do their jobs properly.”
The point of debate came from the council members wanting more information and control on the decisions before coming to open meeting. Mayor John Weaver contended against the point saying that he, as mayor, makes the decisions to put before the council during meetings.
Weaver consulted city attorney Will Pickett, Jr. who stated, “The mayor has the right of appointment and the council can decide whether or not to approve your appointment.”
Proctor disagreed with Pickett saying, “I don’t think that’s what the code says.”
Moving along on the item, Weaver presented three appointments for the council’s approval, Luke Copeland to the Planning and Zoning Commission, Karen Proctor to the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals, Don Boggus to the Housing Authority. All of these were re
All three appointments saw a motion from Tony Fountain, but no second. Each failed for that lack of a second.
Weaver stated during the failed motions, “This is the chaos that prevails.”
Pickett noted that without new appointments those serving would continue to serve until an appointment is approved.
Proctor stated after the motions failed that he was trying to prevent the chaos. He said, “The council deserves input on who serves on these committees. And we’re not saying we don’t disagree with your appointments, but we deserve input on it.”
With Proctor asserting he only wanted input on what goes on, Weaver responded saying, “Sir, you’ve got more input than you can imagine, so congratulations.”
There were committee appointments for council members that were approved. Finance committee includes Tony Fountain and John Foust. Water Committee is Tony Fountain. Public Safety Committee is Dr. Sonny Proctor. Street Department in Anne Sneve. Parks is John Foust. The JYSA Liaison is John Foust. Roper-Perrow Property is Jim Looney and Sonny Proctor. These were approved unanimously by the council.
JASPER, Ga. – The Jasper City Council held a town hall in the midst of circulating rumors about the garbage collection services.
One proposal offered street side service costing slightly less than the other that offered backdoor pickup.
Despite the offers, citizens quickly began asking why Looney didn’t include a third option for the city to maintain the service. Looney quickly responded saying that it was an option, but he was simply noting the outside proposals with set prices.
Overwhelmingly, the citizens present for the meeting as well as downtown businesses began saying that they enjoyed the people working for the county and felt their service was beyond compare. As such, suggestions began rising that they would be willing to pay more if it meant keeping the current service going.
Others complained about bringing in an outside service saying that restaurants downtown would have nasty and smelly trash on the sidewalk every weekday waiting for trash pick-ups whereas the current service provides backdoor pickup. Even with one of the outside proposals offering a similar service, citizens said the current workers have consistently responded to extra needs and requests without complaint, a service they highly doubted would continue with a commercial business operation.
Giving examples like times when a box was forgotten or something was missed, the city’s servicers readily returned to fix issues.
It was added that the reason these issues could be resolved quickly and easily was citizens direct contact with the operators. With an outside company, the city would become a “middle-man” between the citizens and the company with the city collecting the fees and paying the vendor. Likewise, the city would still be handling much of the trash issues as citizens would contact them with issues and they would contact the vendor.
UPDATE: Discussing the issue one week before their monthly meeting, the city saw no action on changes to a vendor or fees as of yet regarding the garbage service. As they continue discussions on the topic the item sits on the agenda for November.
Jasper, Ga – The City Council approved advertising for their millage rate alongside other items this week. Moving the meeting due to the holiday, the Council met on Wednesday, September 5.
The Council made no changes to the rate, leaving it at 4.655 mills. Thought Lisa Hoyle said in the meeting that the inflationary rate actually went down, it did not force a rollback rate. With growth in the county and new construction, the city could still see a rise in revenue, but they decided not to raise or lower the rate to affect any other changes to the budget.
With the advertisement, the council can move the next two meetings in October and November, this could also include a Special Called Meeting if needed. Citizens are invited to speak on the Millage Rate at any meeting set to discuss the subject.
The City also motioned to move forward with negotiations in the interest of connecting a water line to a new Pickens County Water Treatment Plant. With finer details still in need of finalizing and concessions between the two entities to be met, the City will be sending Mayor John Weaver, City Manager Jim Looney, and David Hall back into the negotiations to protect the city’s interests.
The approval simply notes the city’s willingness to participate in the new treatment plant by constructing the pipeline and covering the costs. It could mean the ability to trade water between the city and county treatment plants as well as adding a potential 300,000 gallons of water per day to the supply for the area.
The city is set to continue updates for the council in coming meetings as details and agreements are finalized. The city is also looking to maintain its water supply and flow through potential drought conditions.
A third major topic the council discussed involved restricting turn options at Mark Whitfield Street and Highway 53 and a four-way stop at Old Philadelphia Road and Confederate Avenue.
Making the turn left off of Mark Whitfield Street next to the drug store was approved in efforts to fight against the danger of what Looney referred to as a “Blind Turn.” Making the action illegal will cut down on the issue while encouraging drivers to begin using alternate routes such as moving over to North Main Street or on the opposite side to Richard Street. Officially approved as “Right-Turn only,” the approval will actually have citizens avoid going straight across either.
A four-way stop on Old Philadelphia Road is set to help avoid traffic back-up from another dangerous intersection. With heavy traffic involving the many businesses located on Confederate Avenue and Philadelphia Lane, as well as traffic coming from the nearby Wal-Mart using Old Philadelphia Road as a shortcut towards North Main Street.
Requested by a business owner in the area, the council decided they wished to further investigate as the item was placed on the agenda last minute. Officially tabled until October’s meeting, the council will be looking at the intersection until then.
JASPER, Ga. – The latest in the city of Jasper’s separation of the positions of mayor and city manager came with council approval for advertisements for a permanent person to the position.
Currently, the position is held as interim City Manager by Jim Looney. As a part of the position, Looney presented Carl Vinson Institute of Government as the entity to take care of advertising and searching for candidates for the position.
The proposal for $9,487.50 includes the company interviewing the mayor and council to find what they are looking for in a candidate and then seeking people to fill those needs. They would accept applications for the city, evaluate the candidates, and make recommendations to the council for candidates. However, Looney reported the final decision on candidates would be up to the mayor and council.
The search would be localized to our region, according to Looney, providing candidates from the area. Another option of the package could have representatives from the Institute attend the interviews for candidates costing $1,500 per day. Though this option was in addition to the main package and not required.
Jasper Mayor John Weaver offered his opinion, stating it was a lot of money for what the city could do. He also noted that the people of the city elected the council to handle the business of the city. Suggesting he did not want the operation “taken out of the city’s hands,” Weaver suggested the council not approve the proposal.
Looney countered saying it added transparency to the process as well as handling “a heck of a job” in finding candidates. He went on to say that having the Institute’s name on the advertisement could provide some added prestige in the candidate search.
One alternative to using the Carl Vinson Institute would be for the city to establish its own search committee and place its own advertisements for the search and controlling everything “in-house.”
The council voted unanimously at their May meeting to approve the Carl Vinson Institute of Government proposal for finding a city manager.