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June 27, 2007

Public Hearing on Proposed 2008 budget to be held
Friday, June 29, 2007 at 9:00 AM

A month or two ago our Commissioners discussed and debated, for about 45 minutes, mid-month meetings and when they should be held. It was decided that IF there was a mid-month meeting, then it should be held at NIGHT so the public could attend. Well, true to form, the Commissioners will be having an “end of month meeting” (so that probably isn’t the same thing as a “mid month meeting” and doesn’t qualify) to hold a PUBLIC HEARING on one of the most if not the most important meetings of the year—setting the budget and thereby setting your property tax bill for the next year—at 9:00AM on a Friday morning.

See how this will affect you and your tax bill: http://www.taxdogs.com/061907proptax.htm

On June 21, last Thursday morning at 9:00AM, the BOC held a “work session” in which public comment was not encouraged and allowed only “at the discretion of the Board.” During that meeting Ed Westbrook—Fire/EMS/911/EMA; Larry Thurman—Public Works; Chris Anderson—P&Z/Code Enforcement/Animal Control; and Sheriff Roper—Sheriff/Jail attended and “answered questions” from the BOC.

The common theme throughout the morning was “nothing in the budget could be compared to last year’s budget” and there were many, many errors in the budget. (These comments were directed at the County Manager and CFO.) Nevertheless, there is a Public Hearing (8 days later) this Friday where the Commissioners are likely to be as confused this Friday as they were last Thursday. Being confused and not understanding is a good excuse to pass a budget and then complain during the next year about how things got in there. Two commissioners—Bernard and Pennamon—have constantly complained this year about how they didn’t have time to go over the budget last year and how they would just HAVE to approve things that came up because they were “already in the budget.” They have both repeatedly said that there should be a line by line review of the budget this year before it is passed. There is plenty of time to do that, but our Commissioners already have a tentative agenda for July 10th with both the budget being passed and the millage being set. Event though our Commissioners take no responsibility for anything, the budget is what THEY approve and have supposedly reviewed. (Don’t count on the reviewed part.)

Highlights from the June 21st meeting:

  • The Sheriff:
    • wants more staff to deal with sex offenders and illegal aliens. He said he really needs a full-time deputy to deal with just sex offenders.
    • needs $63,000 a year for courthouse security
    • wants deputies to take Spanish classes so he doesn’t have to hire an interpreter.
  • Commissioners complained about salaries being lumped so they couldn’t compare, and this was common with all departments on the budget
  • Ed Westbrook—Fire/EMS/etc
    • Wants a new truck to help with wildfires (TWG wonders is this for Jasper County or so that Ed can travel out of town and help other counties)
    • Says one fire truck has a busted tank and wants a new truck (no one questioned if it could be repaired, why it hadn’t been repaired, cost to repair compared to new one, etc.)
    • Says he lowered salaries by getting rid of Overtime and hiring Part Time people.
    • It was brought up that EMS had already spent $73,000 for OT this year to date and budget for entire year was only $18,000 for OT. Ed was told to adjust the budget or adjust his management
    • Ed wants a new ambulance at $87,000 but wants it now and take out of 2008 budget
  • Again complaints by the Commissioners about couldn’t understand the budget and how it was laid out.
  • Larry Thurman—Public Works
    • He said he had 6 pieces of equipment down to do work—grading, potholes, other PW dep’t work
    • Said they needed to purchase new equipment to do everyday work—what they had was beyond repair—He needs equipment now—would cost $75,000
    • This brought up $478,000 sitting in 2007 budget for equipment and commissioners immediately decided county should purchase PAVING equipment—not the equipment asked for
    • Bernard said the roads need to be fixed—Thurman assured him he had the men capable to do the paving. In past meetings, the BOC was urged to hire out paving of the roads so there would be bonding in place.
    • Thurman then announced that a DOT person looking at Jasper County roads said “Jasper County had some of the best roads in Georgia.” TWG wondered just which roads he was taken on!!!
  • Chris Anderson—Animal Control/P&Z/Code Enforcement
    • Animal Control –have hired part time person and want additional $3000 raise for AC officer because she has to supervise now
    • Want crematorium (even though commissioners nor AC committee EVER received real cost figures—including costs to run). AC officer now does euthanizing instead of Butts County.
    • Said part time help for Code Enforcement was being paid by Curbside services. BOC wanted that verified.
    • Zoning Clerk will be retitled to Zoning Administrator and get $3000 raise.

The BOC adjourned and sat the next meeting—Public Hearing—for next Thursday, but changed it to Friday because Comm. Hill and Comm. Yarbrough (who was absent again) couldn’t make it the next Thursday.

Citizens, we encourage you to attend, but understand why you can’t. You have to keep working to pay your ever increasing property tax bill. After the public hearing, we will send you a copy
of the budget and some of the outrageous items in it…that you’ll be paying for unless you call or email your commissioner. Their telephone numbers and email addresses are on our website http://www.taxdogs.com/commissioners.htm

TWG
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** To keep the taxpayers of Jasper County, Georgia informed as to where and
how their tax dollars are being spent.
** To keep the taxpayers abreast of local policies and laws bein
g discussed and enacted.
** We advocate more open government, less government sp
ending, and lower property taxes.

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