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County delays combining courts; approves tax relief

Pike County commissioners voted unanimously Jan. 11 to delay an Aug. 16, 2011 request to local legislators to pursue combining the local magistrate and probate courts. According to county manager Bill Sawyer, more research will be done on the issue before it is brought back to commissioners for their consideration. ’The numbers we relied upon are somewhat skewed,’ Sawyer said. ‘I ask that we wait on this issue at least until I can get more accurate information on the budget for the combined courts.’ Commissioners also revisited a Dec. 17 decision to reduce an impact fee to $2,500 for Johnson Battery in Zebulon. They voted to exempt all impact fees. ’What we weren’t aware of is this won’t be a new building, it’s an expansion of an existing building,’ said Sawyer. ‘We’re expecting this addition to create new jobs and I recommend we exempt all impact fees in this case.’ Commissioners discussed a school board resolution to increase the homestead exemption from school district ad valorem taxes for citizens who are 65 or older to $27,000. ’Once the commission authorizes this resolution, it must pass through legislature with two-thirds of the votes. It’ll be sent back to the county and put on the November ballot for each citizen to vote on it,’ said Sawyer. A 2-3 vote failed to re-appoint water and sewer authority board member Tom Lacey to a five-year term set to expire Dec. 31, 2016 with commissioners Tamra Jarrett and Don Collins voting in favor. Carol Bass moved to appoint commissioner Tommy Powers, with him seconding the motion and the chairman voting to make it a 3-2 decision. ’There’s nothing in the law that prohibits any board member from voting at any time, except when there is a conflict of interest,’ said county attorney Rob Morton after the meeting. ‘A conflict of interest is defined as anyone having financial interest in a decision. This is not a legal conflict of interest according to the law.’ Commissioners also voted unanimously to appoint Tamra Jarrett as vice chairman of the commission for 2012. THE COUNTY ALSO: ’¢ Approved a resolution to set qualifying fees for 2012 county elections. ’¢ Heard Pike has nothing to do with expansion of any pipeline. Work adjacent to Highway 19 is being done by private companies. ’¢ Heard Williamson is asking for use of the old fire station next to city hall since a new fire station has since been built and it is unused. Sawyer directed the county attorney to draft an intergovernmental agreement to allow Williamson to use the building. ’¢ Heard a vacancy on the board of assessors will be re-advertised to fill the unexpired four-year term of Keith Revell, set to expire April 14, since no applications have been received; and appointed Jodi D’Hollosy to fill the unexpired term of Mary Milner, set to expire Aug. 31, to complete a three-year term. ‘¢ Approved renewal of retail sales alcohol license for beer for Dexter Whitlock at The Country Store. ’¢ Held public hearings and approved a final group of properties to be rezoned as agricultural residential, a project started in April 2011, with all properties verified as legal lots of record or having current plats rectified, including property owned by: Bonnie Byrd Gardner, Earl and Donna Evans, Ronald Coventry, Marjorie Cochran, Bobby Blount, Johnny and Joan McLeRoy, Phil Shackelford, Thomas and Marlene Proctor, Daniel W. Ray and James Timothy Collins.

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