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County decreases budget, taxes

Pike County commissioners approved the 2016-17 budget with a slight decrease in millage rate and discussed road work at their Wednesday, Aug. 10 meeting. Commissioners approved the budget amendment and resolution, noting that the digest would be sent to the state and returned, at which time a special called meeting will be called to set the millage rate. ’We have gone through this budget very diligently,’ said county manager John Hanson. ‘These are very conservative numbers and we think we’ve done a good job of collecting revenues locally. At the state level, several changes have been made that affected different line items and we had to take that into consideration.’ It was also noted that the Title Ad Valorem Tax has affected the digest locally as have several other factors, forcing additional changes to the budget. ’As originally proposed, we would have had a millage rate increase, but we looked back at areas to see where we could adjust the budget and found that we were underestimating our revenues in some areas significantly,’ said county manager John Hanson. ‘The ad valorem tax is affecting the digest and there are other factors that affect it as well. We made some adjustments to public works and the M&R for paved and unpaved roads. We will have impact fees available if we need to address a culvert issue or other road issues.’ Road work was another top issue discussed by commissioners, including prep work being done by county crews and resurfacing work to begin soon under contractor crews. ’CW Matthews has moved equipment in but the rain has hampered things a little,’ said Hanson. ‘We are quite a few miles ahead of them with patching.’ Commissioner Tim Daniel noted that the county crew did a great job preparing Old Zebulon Road for repaving. ’I noticed that the workers cut down a hill that had been a dangerous spot in the road,’ He said. ‘I’m sure the residents in that area appreciate that.’ It was noted that the hill was a spot where there have been several near-fatal wrecks and allowed drivers to jump the hill at relatively low speeds, with many speeding in the area just to jump it. It was noted that county crews will also do extensive work on improving Jonathans Roost Road in Williamson and Shepherd Road in Meansville. Commissioners discussed accepting a portion of Watering Hole Pass to be county maintained. ’If you agree to accept the property, we can maintain it at a very low cost, even the up front work,’ said Hanson, who offered to contact the property owner about putting up signs noting where private property starts. Watering Hole Pass resident Steve Whitworth, who has lived in the area since 1994, said he did not want to make the road accessible so people can use the road as a cut through. He said the decision should have been made between all the property owners in the surrounding subdivisions before the county got involved. He said a gate needs to be installed where the private property starts before the road is improved. ’What we are trying to do is to maintain that road,’ said commissioner James Jenkins. ‘If they want to put a gate up there, that’s up to them.’ County manager Hanson noted that it would be some time before county crews would be available to do the work. Acceptance of the property was approved by a 4-1 vote, with commission chairman Briar Johnson in opposition. Commissioners approve a request to use a total of $18,000 out of the Library Impact Fees to purchase new furniture for the J. Joel Edwards Public Library. It was noted that $6,000 of impact fees had already been included in the library’s budget and an additional $12,000 was approved by commissioners. ’The furniture would be for the area designated for wifi access and laptop use,’ said county manager Hanson. ‘They are looking to improve that area for citizens who use it. Their request meets all state requirements.’ Commissioner Tim Guy thanked library manager Rosemary Bunn for doing a great job at the library and asked her to be cautious about the use of funding for the library. The county also: ’¢ Heard that the last of the 2011 SPLOST collections finished with increased revenues, a good sign heading into the next six years of SPLOST collections, according to Hanson. ’¢ Approved the second reading of a text amendment to the Pike County Code of Ordinances relating to possible zoning administrator approval for certain proposed uses not fully meeting certain standards of the zoning districts in which they are located. It was noted that any variance accepted by the zoning administrator would be included on the monthly report to commissioners. ’¢ Heard from county attorney Tom Morton that a 50-year title search is being filed with the state and could result in a reimbursement on the landfill property for more than $20,000. ’¢ Reappointed Rhonda Morgan and Wadra McCullough to three-year terms on the J. Joel Edwards Public Library board, set to expire Aug. 31, 2019. ’¢Â Recognized Vera Hammonds for her 15 years of service to the county. She was not present and it was noted that she will have an opportunity to attend a future meeting for recognition if she chooses. ’¢ Cancelled the Tuesday, Sept. 27 meeting to allow for adequate travel time to training for board members. ’¢ Approved a permit fee refund for a citizen who planned to build a barn before losing his job. It was verified that no activity had taken place at the build site. ’¢ Heard that Big Chic will begin work soon to build what the county manager called a ‘˜model’ location. He said he expects it to be a nice restaurant and wants everyone to welcome them to town.

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