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FRONT PAGE - AUGUST 25, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GA

LOCAL NEWS


Waddell charged with DUI
Jackson County Board of Commissioners chairman Jerry Waddell was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants Thursday night after wrecking his county car on Hwy. 332.
Waddell was charged after refusing to take a DUI test. He reportedly wrecked after swerving to avoid a deer in the roadway.
Waddell was entering a curve on Hwy. 332 when the deer crossed the road, according to the accident report filed with the Georgia State Patrol. He reportedly crossed the center line and lost control of the vehicle. The car came back onto the roadway, crossed the road again in a skid and overturned and went through a barbed wire fence.
Waddell received minor injuries in the wreck.
He has been chairman of the BOC since 1993 and his term ends December 2000.


Drought leads to Jefferson water curbs
Water restrictions are now in place in Jefferson due to the lack of rain.
City leaders hope to reduce use by as much as 25 percent. Failure to meet that goal will result in additional conservation measures, according to officials.
The restrictions became effective Monday and are as follows:
·No outside watering between 4 p.m. and midnight.
·Watering between midnight and 4 p.m. will be on an odd and even address basis.
For those found to not comply with these regulations, the first offense will be a warning, the second offense will be a $500 fine and the third offense will be a $500 fine and water service discontinued.


Sewage swords sheathed as contract talks begin
Both sides of a controversial sewage deal sheathed their political swords Monday - at least for the time being.
As a court condemnation hearing filed by the county against Water Wise Inc. loomed, negotiations got a jump start Monday morning when attorneys for the firm tentatively agreed to a series of conditions from the county. In a two-hour meeting, the various players in the issue agreed to postpone a planned Tuesday court hearing so that attorneys would have time to draft a contract between the county and Water Wise.
The contract would put all permits and legal control over where sewage lines are to go in the county into the hands of the county government while Water Wise would own and operate a treatment facility. Over a period of time, the facility would be deeded back to the county government.
Last month, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, the City of Jefferson and the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority had joined in an effort to stop Water Wise from getting a wastewater permit for the old Texfi plant on Hwy. 11 in Jefferson. With such a permit, Water Wise would have condemnation powers and local government officials feared that the private firm would be in a position to control growth in the county without any regulations. In a bid to stop that, the three government agencies filed a condemnation action to take the Texfi facility and operate it as a county-owned facility.
Two weeks ago, the county offered Water Wise $1.5 million for the plant, but the company turned down the bid and the parties appeared to be headed for a protracted legal fight to resolve the matter.
But at a meeting last Thursday, Jackson County School superintendent Andy Byers suggested that the two sides consider a lease-purchase arrangement for the Texfi plant. Building on that idea, attorneys for Water Wise and the county discussed a contractual arrangement by phone and decided further talks were warranted, hence Monday's meeting.
Tentatively, the two sides agreed to pursue such a contract. Among other points, the contract would include:
· A provision that the county would hold title to the state EPD permit.
· That Water Wise would operate the Texfi waste water treatment facility for the county.
· That Water Wise would collect all tap-on fees and use those funds to expand the system.
· That the county would determine where all sewer lines would be put.
· That over a period of years, the treatment plant and sewer lines would be turned over to county ownership
In addition to those key provisions, county leaders want to insure that some sewage is provided to potential industrial areas even though that may not provide a quick return on the investment to Water Wise. County officials are also seeking to deal with any future facilities that Water Wise might build in the county to insure that the local governments would also have regulatory powers over those sewer lines as well.
If a contract is completed between the county and Water Wise, it would remove the City of Pendergrass from the issue. That town had signed a trust indenture for the Texfi plant in an effort to help Water Wise get a state EPD permit. Officials said that the firm still plans to build a waste water treatment plant in Pendergrass, but that would be at least two years away.

EDUCATION

Special Feature...
A Tradition in Education
Jackson Trail Christian School begins its 25th year, continues emphasis on patriotism, religion...

See Jackson Trail Feature



First day of school

Ashleigh Lance arrives for the first day of school Friday at North Jackson Elementary School with her mother, Celia, and a younger sibling. Ashleigh is a student in Bernice Davis' kindergarten class.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Tentative county millage rates set
Digest growth to hold rates steady

BY ANGELA GARY
A projected jump in the county's tax digest should allow the county government to increase its budget and still keep property tax rates the same as last year. At least that's what the Jackson County Board of Commissioners hoped last week as they approved a tentative budget and tax rate for the year 2000.
A public hearing on the millage rate and budget will be held when the BOC meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, at the Jackson County Administrative Building auditorium in Jefferson. Copies of the budget are available at the commissioner's office.
Preliminary numbers show an increase in the incorporated tax digests of 25 percent and a 15 percent jump in unincorporated areas. If that growth proves to be accurate as the digest is finalized later this year, the BOC plans to set millage rates of 8.90 in incorporated areas and 7.57 in unincorporated areas, virtually the same rates as last year.
The total county budget is expected to top $21.8 million in 2000. The general operations fund is expected to account for $14.5 million of that, up $1.5 million from last year. Special enterprise funds for the landfill and for capital projects are expected to make up the rest of the budget.
The 2000 budget projects income of $11.2 million from taxes with only $5.57 million of that coming from property taxes. The rest of the tax income is generated from sales taxes and various transfer and utility taxes.
In addition to taxes, the county gets income from licenses and permits, court fines and various service charges. Of particular note, state income for inmates at the Jackson County Correctional Institute is expected to jump 31 percent to $1.22 million next year.
On the expense side, the sheriff's department and jail make up the single largest part of the budget at $3.23 million. The road department makes up $2.74 million of the total, while the JCCI tops $1.43 million. The ambulance service is budgeted at $1.25 million for the year. The county also plans to sell some $3 million of its road equipment to help fund purchasing new equipment for the department.
The county's recreation department is budgeted at $358,000 for the year with some $116,000 being paid for with user fees and the rest coming from general income.



SPLOST formula set for Nov. 2 vote
Water, sewer, roads, recreation and fire slated to split revenue
BY ANGELA GARY
As expected, voters will be asked in November to pass a special purpose location option sales tax for water and sewer infrastructure, roads and recreation improvements and to build a training facility for the volunteer fire departments.
These areas had been discussed at numerous meetings, but they became official when the Jackson County Board of Commissioners set the SPLOST formula at a called meeting Friday morning. The vote will be Nov. 2.
The breakdown for the revenue is as follows: 70 percent for water and sewer; 23 percent for roads; five and a half percent for recreation (which also includes land for parks and park renovations); and one and a half percent for a fire training facility.
Earlier plans were to include a new courthouse as part of the SPLOST vote, but the courthouse committee sent the BOC a letter asking that it be funded through other sources.
"This has been the hardest thing we've had to do in a long time," commissioner Henry Robinson said in making a motion on the formula. "Everybody wants more and we just can't give everybody what they want. It's just impossible. We've tried to do the best we can."
Commissioner Pat Bell said she is also pleased with the formula.
"I feel real strongly about this formula," she said. "I think it's a good one. I think our basic need is for water in this county. We've given a major part of that to water. I feel real strongly about roads. We get 75 cents back on each dollar (from the state)."
BOC Chairman Jerry Waddell also voted in favor of the formula.
"It may not be all you want, but it's a start," he said. "It's a struggle for us to try and divide this money. If someone is unhappy about it and they don't get out and work for it, all of us lose...We're all going to get out and work to pass it."
The water and sewer, roads and recreation funds will be divided among the county and towns based on population. The population distribution will initially be based on the 1990 census, but when the 2000 figures become available, they will be used.
One difference in this set-up and the last SPLOST is that all towns will get a share of the recreation money. In the past this only went to the county, Commerce and Hoschton since they had "certified recreation programs." Towns without such a program will be allowed to use their portion of the funds for park renovations and to purchase land for future parks.
"I feel real strongly about the recreation part of that money being used to to set aside green spaces for parks down the road," Bell said. "If we don't go ahead and start identifying some of these key areas in our county to set aside for future parks, we aren't going to have any to set aside."
Another change is that sidewalk projects will also be allowed with the road money. County executive assistant David Bohanan said that water funds will also be allowed to purchase equipment for capital projects.
As for the funds for the fire departments, it will be used to construct a "burn building." The fire department leaders had also asked for funds for classrooms for training. Robinson said that when the new courthouse is built, space will be available in the Administrative Building for these purposes.

The Jackson Herald - Jefferson, Georgia
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