Pike County Times
The Pike County Times, PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. Click here to donate through PayPal. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor@pikecountytimes.com
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This online news website is owned and operated by Becky Watts. The Editor can be reached at 770-468-7583 or at editor(at)PikeCountyTimes(dot)com. Pike County Times is a website for citizens to keep up with local events and stay informed about Pike County government. It began on November 13, 2006 as a watchdog on county government and has turned into an online newspaper.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 9:00 a.m.
Courthouse Annex, 79 Jackson Street, Zebulon, Georgia

This meeting began as almost standing room only with citizens present to hear about a variety of issues throughout the meeting. The meeting room slowly cleared out as each issue was called with only a few left when the meeting concluded at 1:26 p.m. This meeting was attended by all five commissioners, County Clerk Jo Ann Wrye to take the minutes, County Manager (CM) Mike Phillips, and County Attorneys Rob Morton and Tom Morton. County Financial Officer Kay Landers was also present throughout the meeting along with various representatives and department heads in county government.

I was only able to hear a portion of the Town Hall meeting prior to the meeting. One citizen added a pothole to the list of items that need to be addressed by Public Works. Evidently there was talk about beginning Commission meetings in prayer as I heard one citizen voice his support of the suggestion to the commissioners.

1. CALL TO ORDER Chairman J. Briar Johnson

2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE Chairman J. Briar Johnson

3. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA - (O.C.G A. 50-14-1 (e) (1))

There were a couple of changes to the agenda. Commissioner Carol Bass asked that the Election of a Vice-Chairman be added to New Business as this is usually done in the first meeting of the BOC each year. County Attorney Rob Morton asked to add an Executive Session for discussion of Pending Litigation on the Callaway-Ingram Magistrate Court case.

4. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES - (O.C.G.A. 50-14-1(e) (2))
Minutes of the December 12, 2012 Regular Monthly Meeting.


a. Lanier Boatwright to discuss Broadband for Pike County.

A proposal for the county to join with several others to research broadband was discussed before the commissioners last spring and the commissioners chose not to be a part of it at that time. Robert Hiett presented a brief analysis of the situation by presenting the milestones of the study that has been conducted over the past 6 to 7 months to date. Heard, Troup, Meriwether and Upson Counties are participating in a study of broadband over their area. He said that business and industry have expressed a need for broadband capability and said that some areas in nortwest Georgia were able to attract industry and business because of broadband capability in their area. He said that this was being conducted to encourage a public-private partnership to enhance broadband in that four county area including the use of grants, etc. with an emphasis on enhancing coverage and speed for business and industry.

b. Warden Edd Sanders to present to the Board his resignation from the Board of Directors of Pike County DFCS.

DFACS Board Chairman Edd Sanders presented commissioners with a letter of resignation from the DFACS Board of Directors at today's meeting. He stated in his letter that the Board has been fiscally conservative and has worked with the Commissioner to spend money wisely during his time on the board. Over $70,000 has been returned to the county during this time alone. However, he told commissioners in the meeting that he has seen some things that have been disappointing as far as service goes to people in the county and asked asked the commissioners to become more involved in oversight of DFACS. "I don't know that you are getting your money's worth," he said. Mr. Sanders said that the attitude is "systemic" and that the environment has existed for a long time at DFACS. In response to Commissioner Tamra Jarrett's question about what could be done, he said that commissioners could ask questions and attend meetings. He said that they could also hold DFACS accountable on how it is spending taxpayer money and that more interest from the Board of Commissioners is a good thing. Commissioner Carol Bass said that DFACS is required to send minutes to the commissioners but had not been doing so. She said that she asked for minutes from the past year and that they sent them to her all at once though they all seem to be "rubberstamped". She also said that they have been required by state law to send an annual report to commissioners each year since 2000 and that Pike County has never gotten a copy of the annual report before this year.

Mr. Sanders' letter brought forward some "serious concerns" that he has with the management and the day to day operations in the DFACS office. He said that he is continually disappointed in the level of care provided to the public by the agency as well as the level of customer service that is provided. He continued by saying that he is disappointed at being attacked publicly and personally by the agency's representative and said that he is most concerned "when the agency's treatment of citizens in this county is looked upon with a blind eye and accepted as 'business as usual'". He stressed that he was speaking only for himself and not for any other board member and said that he felt changes in the operations of the DFACS agency's office are in order including asking the commissioners to empower the DFACS Board to help bring the agency's Pike County operation "into compliance with the mission of the Department of Human Services and the expectations of you Commissioners and the other citizens of this county."

Commissioner Bass made a motion to reject Chairman Sanders' letter of resignation if he will remain on the board and the Board of Commissioners support the DFACS Board. After a 2nd was given as part of the discussion, Commissioner James Jenkins said that there has been a problem with follow through at DFACS from his own experience. Commissioner Tommy Powers echoed this complaint as well. Commissioner Bass praised the current DFACS Board and said that with good leader, this board could straighten out the problems there. Motion was approved in a 5-0 vote. The next DFACS meeting will be on January 22, 2013 at 5 p.m. in the DFACS Conference Room. This meeting is open to the public.

Update 1.10.13

a. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities, including a Revenue/Expenditure Statement for all departments, and a summary check register.

b. County Manager Report

- Update on County finances for the following funds/accounts:
General Fund - $1,628,299.76
Jury Account - $0.00
Cash Reserve Account - $176,388.72
Jail Fund - $21,473.23
E-911 Fund - $105,115.09
DATE Fund - $16,455.80
Juvenile Court Fund - $25,306.90
Residential Impact Fees - $281,140.57
Commercial Impact Fees - $17,824.76
General Obligation SPLOST Tax Bond Sinking Fund, 2011 - $453,329.69

c. County Manager Comments

- Courthouse renovation update.

CM Phillips said that he anticipates the courthouse been completely finished by next week. He said that they have been they have been very cooperative to work with us and that we must complete and pay for this primary project before moving to roads and bridges which is our second SPLOST project. Our LMIG (used to be known as LARP) is tied to our roads and bridges portion of the SPLOST. Click here for details on the $315,299.91 from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) as part of a grant from the State of Georgia to Pike County in the Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) program. The county is required to pay a 30% match on LMIG and he said to be mindful that SPLOST money will run out at some point and the commissioners will need to have matching amounts in the Public Works budget each year in the future.

- Update on any pertinent departmental issues.


Commissioners had questions on the revenue and expense sheets. Commissioner Bass also asked about the final payment to the contractor and was advised that $145,000 is being held back until everything is complete. She also asked about the SPLOST road paving list and was advised that this is being developed. Commissioner Tamra Jarrett asked about a $1,192.74 expenditure in the commissioner's budget. There was also a question about the vehicle lease amount in the Sheriff's Budget. [Note from the Editor: Even with our Budget Officer sitting in the meeting, there was no way that she could pull these numbers out for commissioners without looking them up and give them a definitive answer though Ms. Landers was able to handle these questions after a short break when she was able to look them up. I know that she has been asked to stay in the meetings to help answer questions in the past, but her time might be better spent in the office rather than sitting through commission meetings.]

d. Commissioner Reports.

Commissioner Carol Bass welcomed the new commissioners. She also expressed concern that the commissioners should get reports for each department every month and encouraged the county manager to encourage departments that are getting money from the commissioners to send minutes of their meetings to the commissioners. She inquired whether the computers from the board of commissioners office would meet the needs of DFACS in the library. CM Phillips said that he has no official report yet but they may not be at some are to meet these needs. He will advise the board as soon as he gets a report. This state program to require online interaction only is anticipated to roll out in April. The problem with the insurance on a truck at Pike County Parks & Recreation being double-paid has not been resolved yet, but the county manager and county attorney are working on a meeting with the chairman of the recreation department and the insurance company is aware that a refund will be issued to one of these entities. But with a short discussion about the intergovernmental agreements and fire station rent. The county manager is going to update all amounts being paid to different cities for fire station facilities.

Commissioner Tamra Jarrett asked about criteria for naming roads, bridges, etc. in the county. She was advised that this is being worked on but there is no final document yet for presentation. She also welcomed the new commissioners.

Commissioner Tommy Powers asked for a meeting with the county manager, the county attorney, Planning and Zoning Director David Allen, Chairman Briar Johnson, and himself about the paint in the courthouse. He also welcome the new commissioners.

Commissioner James Jenkins did not have any comments.

Chairman Briar Johnson said thank you for the opportunity to represent the public as chairman. He said that he may come off as firm but he is always fair and honest. He emphasized that the commissioners worked for the public and want to do what is best for the county and said that he is looking forward to the next four years.

e. County Attorney Report to Commissioners.

County Attorney Rob Morton welcome to the new commissioners and said that Morton and Morton is looking forward to working with them and the Board. He gave an update on the Sheriff's Office and the wrecked car. The county has received the money for it as it with a total loss and he advised that the insurance company has requested the title. Since the property is owned by the county, a motion to authorize is necessary. Motion to authorize the sending of the title to the insurance company on this wrecked car. Approved 5-0. He advised that they had received information on the Securus agreement for inmate phone system and other improvements that have been previously discussed, and that they will keep the board updated.


a. Discuss and/or approve/deny first reading of the Vehicle Use Policy, carried over from the December 12, 2012 meeting.

This had some fairly substantial changes suggested at the last meeting. The county attorney said that he wants to have a draft for them to read prior to a meeting and asked that this be postponed until the next meeting.

b. Discuss any ordinance or other pertinent information regarding repair of the boat ramp on Flat Shoals Rd., carried over from December 12, 2012 meeting.

County Attorney Rob Morton walked commissioners through the history of this boat ramp. It goes back to 2007 with the results being a small area of land that people can use to back their boats into the water but there is no parking along the state highway right of way. The county authorized access there, but it is not a public boat ramp. Commissioner Powers said that the board should leave it alone. Motion to leave this piece of property as it is. Approved 5-0.

Update 1.11.13:

c. Discuss animal control, carried over from the November 27, 2012 meeting.

The Department of Agriculture Inspector for our area was present at the meeting. Motion to allow Ms. Robin Nicholson to speak. Approved 5-0. Commissioner Tamra Jarrett advised that the county has a business plan and a 5 year plan for animal control. Click here to read the Animal Control Plan that the county manager has proposed to commissioners. The question was asked do we have to have a shelter by law? No. Some counties work with other counties on animal control, but all of the county shelters around Pike are full so that is not an option. How many counties have a facility around the state? Commissioners were told that most counties our size do have a shelter with probably around 80% or so counties having a animal shelter around the state. Commissioner Jarrett asked that the land be addressed first for the record. CM Phillips said that the "Borrow Pit" site has been leveled and appears to be a better site with access to water, sewer , and the West Georgia Integrated Treatment Facility close by. He suggested that public works stake out a site for the animal control shelter. Mr. Morrow, who is Ms. Nicholson's boss, suggested that the county have an ordinance in place before moving forward on the shelter. County Attorney Rob Morton advised that an ordinance was drafted in 2007 but the BOC opted not to move forward at that time. The question was asked whether animal control should be put on a referendum for citizens to decide. That Mr. Morton said that there is a state statute for a liquor referendum but there is not one for other issues such as this. The county is required by the state to animal control officer didn't take reports now but there is no place to put animals. Commissioner Jarrett said that it is time to look and decide what the commission wants to do and then do it. Commissioner Bass said that the county shows good faith, the citizens will chip in and help out with this. She suggested rescinding the motion for the animal shelter to be on the old chipper site, (make a motion on the Borrow Pit site), dedicate a new land, but a sign on the new site, and put up a thermometer so citizens can see how much money has been raised toward the animal control shelter.

Discussion then moved to what type of facility which required by the state. It was established that there is no written minimum requirement. Adequate food, water, and shelter would be required as well as billing through licensing and state regulations, but it does not have to be super expensive. The trailer from the City of Zebulon was discussed again--perhaps as an office to begin with and storage later--and commissioners were told by Public Works Director Todd Goolsby that it would likely be a minimum of $20,000 to move and set up on site. Ms. Nicholson said the county does not have to hold animals for adoption. We could put up fences with chain link fences and use crush-n-run instead of concrete in the kennels and coule begin with a shelter that would only house dangerous animals. It was said that once we get started, we will be in this and will have to deal with putting down animals because we have been without animal control at all until this point. Ms. Nicholson agreed that once we get started with an animal shelter, we will be inundated with unwanted animals. It was agreed that the county will have to have animal control ordinance prior to a shelter. Euthanasia will have to be addressed at some point too. She recommended not doing public adoptions for now and worked once that at a later date. Motion by Commissioner Bass to designate the "Borrow Pit" as the future animal control facility site and for Public Works to mark a 300 foot by 300 foot area for the animal shelter. Second by Commissioner Jarrett. A motion was made to allow the public to speak. Approved 5-0.

Cherry Thomas asked for clarification about a specific state minimum for the county and was advised that there is not one. Mr. Morton advised that the county has satisfied the state mandate by having an animal control officer, but he pointed out that we are in a Catch 22 situation if we have to impound a dangerous dog because we would have to get help from an outside agency to do this. Ms. Thomas asked commissioners to decide what they wanted as far as the minimum for an animal shelter and then have a workshop. Peter Potter asked about an ordinance for licensing dogs and whether this was needed. Mr. Morton advised that we do not have an ordinance. Don Bailey, who had headed up Friends of Pike County Animals, Inc. for the past several years, expressed his frustration that an animal shelter was discussed in 2008 and we're still talking about it now without anything being done. He also said that paying $20,000 to move a building is throwing good money at a bad cause. He said that people would help with an animal shelter but they need a decision from the BOC on what they are going to do. He said that the homework is already been done and that this isn't rocket science. He encouraged them to get something done today and move forward with the plans for the Meriwether County Animal Shelter that has been given to the BOC already.

A vote was taken on the motion to designate the "Borrow Pit" as the future animal control facility site and for Public Works to mark a 300 foot by 300 foot area for the animal shelter. Approved 5-0.

Motion for a 10 minute break. Back into session at 11:04 a.m.

d. Discuss and/or approve/deny waiving CUVA tax penalty and interest; payment plan on tax arrearage for Mr. Kenneth Ison's property, carried over from December 12, 2012 meeting.

Mr. Morton gave an overview of what has transpired since the notices originally went out. Essentially, there was a breach of a CUVA covenant. O.C.G.A. 48-5-7.4 provides for the assessment of conservation use property at its current use value rather than the fair market value which allows the property owner to pay a lower amount of taxes each year as long as the property owner follows specific guidelines. In this case, Mr. David Ison's father allowed a family member to rent a house on property that was in CUVA. This broke the covenant and incurred a penalty of $17,895.73 which is taxes that would have been paid since the property went into CUVA in 2005 plus penalties and interest of $5010.80 that had been incurred since the breach. Mr. Morton advised commissioners that they could wave penalties and interest based on circumstances that show there was "no gross or willful neglect". Click here to read about CUVA from the Department of Revenue website.

Mr. David Ison advised commissioners as he did in the December 12 meeting that this is a hardship for his family and asked for relief from the commissioners. Commissioner Bass said that this was the hardest issue for her in the entire meeting because she knew and liked Mr. Ison but said that she couldn't allow her feelings to influence this decision. She read in a pre-written statement that the commissioners had to uphold the law, do what is best for the county, and treat everyone equally. She did not want to set a precedent and have others who have broken their CUVA come before the commissioners and ask for special treatment if they made an exception to today. Commissioner Bass made a motion to deny waiving CUVA penalties and interest. Commissioner Jarrett made a second for discussion. Commissioner Jarrett said that the law does allow commissioners to waive a penalties and interest under certain circumstances and asked Mr. Morton to read the section of law again. He also said that the family had another opportunity to seek relief of filing an application for settlement (with Superior Court) even if the commission denied relief today. It couldn't go before the Board of Equalization and the family couldn't get other relief from another entity like the Board of Tax Assessors because all of the time allotted to do this had already passed before Mr. Ison found out that there was a problem with his parent's property. Commissioner Bass said that she spoke with Kenny Colson at the department of revenue and was advised that getting relief to the taxpayer could set a precedent for everyone who has ever paid a breach of CUVA and recommended a very strong caution with this because sometimes in big tax relief there are consequences that arise later. Mr. Ison advised that this is not the first time that someone does come before the commissioners and asked for relief from a breach of CUVA which prompted Commissioner Bass to reiterate that this would be setting a precedent. Commissioner Jarrett said that based on Mr. Morton reading, there is a possible way to justify waiving the penalties and interest of $5010.80 that have incurred since the breach but not the amount of penalty with the breach of CUVA.

Commissioner Jenkins advised that his family got hit with something similar and it cost them as well. Commissioner Jarrett asked if she could rescind her second on the motion. Chairman Briar Johnson then called for a second on the motion to deny. It died for lack of a second. Motion to waive the interest and penalties of $5,010.80 that have incurred since the original breach but not the original penalty based on the section of law that Mr. Morton read. Approved 5-0. Mr. Morton advised again the family can still petition for additional relief.

11:30 a.m. At this point in the meeting, Commissioner Jarrett had to leave for another engagement. She asked the board to postpone discussion of inventory until their next meeting. Motion to approve. 5-0.

Update 1.19.13:


a. PUBLIC HEARING: SE-12-08. To receive public input on request from Ella Mae Alexander (widow of Charles Alexander) for a special exception in an A-R zoned district for continued use of a pet breeding business at the residence (3323 Chapman Road). The property, with approximately 166 feet of frontage, along the east side of Chapman Road, is located in Land Lot 168 of the 8th District of Pike County, Georgia. Said property consists of 1.03 acres and is further identified as Tax Map Parcel #081 036.
Approval/Denial of special exception request.

Planning and Development Director David Allen advised that this matter came before the Board of Appeals on December 20. He said that Ms. Alexander is a longtime pet breeder and, as the Zoning Administrator, he decided that she needed a Special Exception on this property because of the large number of dogs. The Board of Appeals heard this case and recommended approval which recommended changes by Director Allen and the following conditions: total number of adult dogs is limited to 20, she must obtain a business license from the county, copies of all state inspections for the year must be submitted to the county each year in order to obtain business license renewal, she has two months to meet the requirement of 20 adult dogs-this would be the end of February, she must install privacy fence around the dog cage area by the end of January, and Mr. Allen will talk with the state about better animal waste disposal methods and inform Ms. Alexander of these methods.

Ms. Alexander was at the meeting to answer any questions. She brought pictures to show the progress on the privacy fence. She also advised that she had gotten rid of 18 dogs since the last meeting, will be sending waste to the dump per her conversation with the state, and that she is willing to work with Ms. Nicholson from the state. She said that she probably has 30 dogs or less--down from 60. Director Allen said that an ordinance was passed last year which contains a special exception on dogs more than one year old.

Public Hearing

John Morrison spoke in favor of a special exception. He said that as a member of the Planning Board, the limit was set at set at 10 adult dogs with a provision for a special exception. He said increasing to 20 is more than generous and should be the limit. Jimmy Bass spoke in opposition. He said he did not meant it there was opposition at any of the other meetings, but if there were no complaints, she ought to be grandfathered without restrictions because she's been doing business in Pike County for a long time. He said this verges on government intrusion because she was in compliance with the state and now the county comes up with an ordinance to regulate her. He doesn't think this should be changed.

Melody McCard said that she moved by Ms. Alexander last year. She did not hear barking dogs at that time as that each she had known this business was located in a residential area near the property that she was looking to buy, she would not have bought the property. They hear the dogs constantly ended the smelly in the summer. She has asked other neighbors about it and it doesn't bother them, but her son has to wear earplugs to sleep. She wants the number less than 20 dogs and asked if the 20 dogs would include those only outside her home and not inside of her home. Director Allen advised that the 20 dogs limit would be on those involved in the pet breeding business. She said that she has no problem with continuing this business but wishes that it would be less than 20 dogs.

Don Bailey commissioners that this is a slippery slope and that the board has already established a precedent enforced it with Lisa Ramos. He said that he understands that Ms. Alexander raises small dogs but asked commissioners to imagine breeding 20 Great Danes on one acre property with puppies. He suggested that the county factor in the number of dogs that a breeder should be allowed to have period.

"Buzzy" Morgan said that he heard this discussion and that it bothered him so much that he and his grandson went online and searched for an anti-bark system that could help with the problem. They found some that look like a birdhouse, run on a 9 volt battery, and are inexpensive. They bought some and gave them to Director Allen in hopes that it would help with this situation.

Melody McCard asked and was allowed to play a recording of the barking dogs that she said she heard from her front door. She said that anti-barking device would help because the barking is a nuisance. She reiterated that she wants to be a good neighbor and would have made a different decision if she had heard the dogs to begin with. She just wants it to be better with sound and smell.

Discussion from commissioners included the fact that Ms. Alexander was grandfathered in the before this ordinance was passed and a state statute of "moving to the nuisance" which means that Ms. Alexander was there before someone moved into the neighborhood and complained. Commissioner Bass said that the Board of Appeals came up with a good recommendation that Ms. Alexander said she could live with and this seems to be a good compromise. Discussion included the fact that Director Allen can make determinations in the interest of public health, etc. However, he does not see justification to shut it down. He advised that he can check on this business in six month or so if this is what the commissioners wanted. County Attorney Rob Morton advised that grandfathering does not always trump regulation because of the way that the courts have ruled. He gave an example that the state can change regulations on waste disposal and that Ms. Alexander will have to comply. Motions to follow the recommendations of the Board of Appeals and allow this Special Exception. Approved 4-0.

b. PUBLIC HEARING: SE-12-09 - 555 Trust. To receive public input on request from property owner (Lillian Juanita Morgan, trustee) and Kaleb Alan Knight, applicant for a special exception in a M-2B zoned district to establish a used car lot on an existing, commercially active property (Morgan Well Drilling - 2141 U.S. Highway 41). The property, with approximately 202 feet of frontage along the west side of U.S. Highway 41, is located in Land Lot 154 of the 2nd District of Pike County, Georgia. Said property consists of 3.31 acres and is further identified as Tax Map Parcel # 086 070.
Approval/Denial of special exception request.

Director Allen advised commissioners that this went before the Board of Appeals on December 20. There is currently a business on this lot now. However, the owner's grandson wants to put in a small used car lot. This would involve no new structures on the lot. The Board of Appeals recommended approval with a list of conditions that were not to read aloud in the meeting but were made a part of the final motion. During the public hearing, no one spoke in favor or in opposition on this matter. Commissioner Bass clarified that this was not a discussion about the Impact Fees but only covered the special exception. Motion to approve with stipulations from the Board of Appeals. 4-0. Recommendations on Impact Fees to be discussed at the night meeting per Commissioner Jarrett's request.

c. David Allen is requesting authorization to prepare a text amendment for the February Planning Commission concerning the establishment of Dog Restraint Districts in limited areas within unincorporated Pike County.

Director Allen talked about unwanted dogs, aggressive dogs, and pets with irresponsible owners that are a nuisance. He has been the animal control officer for the county since July 1, 2012 by a state mandate which means that he is basically a glorified listener in Pike County because we have no ordinance "with teeth" that can be enforced. He hears complaints from subdivisions but since there is no leash law, nothing can be enforced. He asked commissioners for authorization to put together a proposal on limited areas such as subdivisions and county owned properties such as the Recreation Fields that would be heard by the Planning Commission in February and would have public hearings. He said that a text amendment such as this would encourage responsibility from citizens through a series of fines that he could issue like a zoning citation in Magistrate Court. The county would still need animal control and a shelter that this could help because there would be no impoundment, wouldn't cost anything, and the fines could go towards an animal control shelter.

Discussion from commissioners included what proof and documentation would be required--the same as required for a zoning case--and whether the county can enforce covenants at these subdivisions--the county cannot enforce private covenants. The county manager advised commissioners of a bad experience that he has had in Zebulon with a neighbor's dogs. Director Allen ask for permission to proceed with drafting a text amendment. Commissioners made no motion therefore this issue died for lack of a motion.

d. Discussion of Rose Hill Road/McKoy Road in southern Pike County.

There was some discussion on this matter including the need for input from the Road Department and 911. Public Works Director Todd Goolsby said that this would have to be a problem right because it is not paved and it was pointed out that the old mountain logging road appears to be a driveway. The county manager recommended setting this aside for now and discussing it later after the criteria for naming roads and bridges has been received by the board. Consensus to postpone this matter for now.

Update 1.10.13:

e. Mr. Cory Kirby to present to the Board for approval/denial of the Board of Education's Tax Levy Resolution adoption.

There was an extremely long and tedious discussion on the BOE's Tax Levy Resolution because of the language that was somewhat cloudy to several members of the BOC. Commissioner Bass was concerned that the amount of $6 million was a very aggressive and that there was a possibility that there would not be enough money collected which could result in taxes being raised by the Board of Education to offset the E-SPLOST though Mr. Kirby advised that the BOE has been very conservative with this e-SPLOST because the bond referendum is only for a little over $4 million (not including the interest that will come to about $4.6 million total) instead of the full $6 million. A bond referendum allows the Board of Education to raise part of the funds up front with a locked in interest rate and begin work on the projects immediately rather than waiting for the e-SPLOST funding to come in every month and then work on it at a later date. There was much discussion about the proposed projects and the difference between the county's SPLOST and the BOE's education SPLOST.

The bottom line is that the Tax Levy Resolution is based on the e-SPLOST Referendum that was proposed by the Board of Education and passed by voters last year. The commission has to sign off on it because it is required by law, but the commissioners actually have nothing to do with this SPLOST. County Attorney Rob Morton explained to the commissioners that if the BOC doesn't sign this resolution, the bonds cannot be issued and the will of the people will not be met. He also pointed out that the BOE could take the BOC to court to get a mandamus against them if this document is not signed. Mr. Kirby advised commissioners that the BOE has already spend money and begun the process on this and if the BOC postpones this vote, they could lose the rate of less than 1% that has already been locked in on these bonds. Mr. Kirby pointed out that postponing this could ultimately cost the taxpayers more money.

It was also stated at one point in the discussion that the Board of Education does not anticipate raising taxes, but--even if it happened--it would NOT be the Board of Commissioners raising taxes, it would be the Board of Education raising taxes. County Attorney Rob Morton repeatedly said that the voters approved this e-SPLOST during the discussion and that the commissioners were required by law to sign off on this. The motion was made by Commissioner James Jenkins with a second by Commissioner Tommy Powers to postpone the vote on this issue and hold a Special Called Meeting in a week in order to talk to the attorney and constituents. 3-1 with Chairman Briar Johnson dissenting.

[Note from the Editor: It appeared to me that some members of the Board of Commissioners were concerned with being blamed for the actions of the Board of Education even though the Board of Education is a separate entity that sets its own taxes according to its needs and can pass its own SPLOST. In fact, the Board of Commissioners has no oversight over the Board of Education. I realize that the commissioners don't want to be blamed for BOE taxes and expenses, but the law requires that commissioners sign off on BOE tax levy resolutions and this should have been done yesterday. Oversight comes from the voters who passed this referendum, and the voters can vote for and against Board of Education members just like they do with the commissioners.]

[Note from the Editor: The Pike County Board of Commissioners will be holding a Special Called Meeting on Monday, January 14, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. in the Courthouse Annex, 79 Jackson Street, Zebulon, Georgia where I fully expect that the Tax Levy for the School Board will be signed.]

f. Appointment of a Vice-Chairman for the Board of Commissioners.

Motion to appoint Commissioners Tommy Powers as Vice-Chairman for the 2013-2014 year. 3-0-1 with Commissioner Tommy Powers abstaining from the vote.

9. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)


10. EXECUTIVE SESSION: Pending litigation regarding Magistrate Court. 1:07 p.m.

Marcia Callaway-Ingram v. Pike County is being heard before the Georgia Supreme Court after Pike County appealed after it lost the case in September. Click here to review this case. Click here for information from the January 10, 2013 article.

11. ADJOURNMENT: 1:26 p.m.

Agenda subject to revision.