Sumter BOC to hold public hearings to discuss potential property tax increase

Published 1:15 pm Monday, July 24, 2017

By Michael Murray

AMERICUS — The Sumter County Board of Commissioners (BOC) convened at the Sumter County Courthouse on July 11 for its monthly work session, followed by the group’s monthly regular meeting, which was held on July 18.
During the regular meeting, the BOC discussed a proposed property tax increase in Sumter County tax districts 6 and 16, which encompass portions of the City of Americus.
Sumter County financial director, Janis Jarvis, advised the board that, according to a recent computation of the millage rate rollback based on a reassessment of existing property, both of these tax districts had shown a positive gain of around $1.2 million.
Jarvis advised the board that this reassessment had pushed the current millage rate over the rollback rate and that, due to these circumstances, the state requires the millage rate must be adjusted to produce the same revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.
The board approved dates and times of three public hearings which members of the community are invited to attend. The public hearings will be held at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Aug. 1, and 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Sumter County Courthouse.
At the work session, the BOC spoke with Terrell Templin, a representative of the Americus-Sumter County Airport Authority, who updated the commissioners on the progress of a proposed eight-unit T-hangar building.
Templin advised the board that the Airport Authority has spent about $104,000 on the project to date. Templin told the commissioners that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) had awarded the Airport Authority $297,000 for the construction of the hangars.
The BOC ratified a letter to the GDOT regarding the construction of the hangar facility during the regular meeting.
At the work session, Templin also discussed a drainage issue that has presented itself on farmland adjacent to the airport. He advised the commissioners that the farmer who works that plot of land had expressed interest in working alongside airport officials and county officials to correct the issue. County Public Works Director, Frank Whitaker, stated that he would look into the situation.
Col. Eric Bryant, representing the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, addressed the BOC, asking for permission to amend the past fiscal year’s budget and take $6,000 from the department’s fuel/gas line item budget to be used to purchase a used Crown Victoria which, he stated that the department needs.
The BOC approved the request at the regular meeting.
County human resources director, Tawanna Howard, addressed the board, asking the commissioners to approve changes to the county’s personnel policy that would allow the county to include stepparents and stepchildren in Sumter County’s funeral leave policy. She also asked the BOC to consider a change to the county ordinance that would allow employees, at the county’s discretion, to be reimbursed for the expenses of career-specific training and educational workshops above the current 15 percent cap.
Both measures were approved by the BOC at the regular meeting.
County administrator, Bill Twomey, led the BOC in a discussion about repairs to the Sumter County Livestock Authority facility.
At the regular meeting, the BOC approved a contract for the purchase of financial and administrative data processing software from Edmunds and Associates Inc. The contract was approved after the addition of language requiring the company to provide five years of support and maintenance for the software.
The BOC discussed a request from the City of Andersonville for inmate labor to help prepare the city for the annual Andersonville Historic Fair.
Twomey advised the commissioners that he had discussed the proposal with Andersonville city manager, Theresa Owen, who assured him that the inmates would only be allowed to work on public property.
At the regular meeting, the board also approved the local vendor preference policy, with added language stating that potential vendors must sign an affidavit affirming that they do not owe the county any money for fines, back taxes, or any other fees.
The board also discussed potential changes to the local Public Defender contract to address language in the contract that states that the Circuit Public Defender can move funds as he or she sees fit after they are allocated to the department.
Twomey stated that the contract’s current language implies that funds allocated to the department can be used to provide bonuses to employees at the Circuit Public Defender’s discretion and that the BOC should address that language.
Twomey conceded that it may take several iterations of the contract to before the language gets to a point where it is nearly ideal for the situation, saying, “We can just keep working on this contract to make it better every time we renew it.”
The board discussed a complaint lodged by a community member regarding the storage and use of RVs in the Lake Blackshear area. No action was taken and the discussion is scheduled to be resumed in August.