Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Oconee County FY 2018 Budget Will Not Require Use Of Reserve Funds, Public Told

First Hearing On Budget

Oconee County presented a $49.9 million Fiscal Year 2018 Budget to the public last (Tuesday) night that was balanced without requiring that any money be drawn from the county’s reserve funds, labeled the Fund Balance.

Finance Director Wes Geddings said he is projecting that the county will receive sufficient revenue, primarily from sales tax and property tax, in the 12 months starting on July 1 to cover the $49.9 million budget.

Geddings did not provide any details of his revenue projections, though he did indicate he expects the county’s tax digest, or the value of property in the county, to go up.

Since the county plans to keep its millage rate at 6.68 for the unincorporated parts of the county and 7.66 in the four cities, any increase in the tax digest translates into increased property taxes, on average, in the next Fiscal Year.

The $49.9 million budget represents an increase of 3.4 percent over the current budget of $48.3 million.

Budget Details

The budget Geddings presented to the public last night was a finalized version of the budget he presented to the Board of Commissioners at a called meeting on May 11.

At that meeting on May 11, Geddings had presented a General Fund budget of $26,941,884. Last night, the total for the General Fund was $26,943,955.

In addition to the General Fund budget, the total county budget includes $3.2 million in a Special Funds Budget, a $.7 million Capital Projects budget, a $11.3 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax budget, a $10.5 million Enterprise Funds budget, and a negative $2.6 million in Interfund Transfers.

The budget includes a 1.5 percent increase in Utility Department rates and increases of fees for some Parks and Recreation Department programs.

BOC Chairman John Daniell had told his fellow commissioners at the May 11 meeting that some slight changes were possible before the final budget was released to the public in the first of two public hearings.

The second public hearing on the budget will before the June 6 meeting of the Board of Commissioners. The Commission is scheduled to adopt the budget at the June 6 meeting.

Public Comment

Geddings told the commissioners that the county had not been able to balance its budget without drawing on the Fund Balance since Fiscal Year 2013.

Last year, Fiscal Year 2017, the county drew $662,000 from the Fund Balance to balance the budget adopted.

Only a handful of citizens attended the public hearing, which was before the regularly scheduled agenda-setting meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

I was the only citizen to speak, and I asked for details of the revenue projections.

Commission Chair Daniell said he will provide those figures to me, but he had not yet done so by the end of the day today.

New Pump Station

During the agenda-setting meeting, the Commission tentatively agreed to award a bid of $584,570 to Legacy Water Group LLC of Covington for construction of a new 125 gallons per minute submersible wastewater pumping station at Oconee Veterans Park plus 5,000 feet of 4-inch sanitary force main.

The pump station will replace a smaller pump station at the park.

The new pump station will allow the county to transfer 30,000 to 35,000 gallons per day of sewage from the Land Application Site on Rocky Branch Road, which is at capacity, to the Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant outside Watkinsville.

The county is in the process of expanding the Calls Creek plant.

Legacy was the low bidder among the four submitting bids for the project.

The Board put the item on its consent agenda for the June 6 meeting, meaning it will be approved without further comment unless a commissioner asks that it be removed from the consent agenda.

Right Of Way

Following the regular, public meeting, the Commission went into executive session to discuss land acquisition.

Approximately an hour later the Board emerged from the closed meeting and voted in public to award a contract for $41,700 to purchase .401 acre of right of way and 10,140 square feet of slope and grade easements at the intersection of Mars Hill Road and Rocky Branch Road.

The contract will be with Ram and Arundhathi Reddy, who own two parcels totaling nearly 13 acres at the intersection.

Commission Chair Daniell said the right of way and easements are for the interchange improvements “that we have been talking about for several months.”


The first video below is of the public hearing on the budget.

The second video is of the scheduled Board of Commissioners meeting.

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie presented the bid for the pump station at Oconee Veterans Park starting at 2:20 in the second video.

The Board came out of executive session and voted on the contract for the Mars Hill Road and Rocky Branch Road intersection improvements at 38:25.

OCO: BOC 5 23 17 Budget Hearing from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

OCO: BOC 5 23 17 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Oconee County Commission Chair Tells Citizens That Park Needs Compete With Other County Demands

Roads Mentioned

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell last week had a simple message for the Advisory Committee on Recreational Affairs and representatives of the citizen Stakeholders Committee that is updating the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Daniell said the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget contains only one new full-time position, and that will go to the Parks and Recreation Department.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Oconee County Citizen Committee For Comprehensive Plan Accepts Parks And Recreation And Land Use Subcommittee Reports

Land Use Only A Start

The Stakeholders Committee working on a revision of the Oconee County Comprehensive Plan gave preliminary approval last week to the preliminary reports of two of its subcommittees, one on Parks and Recreation and the other on Land Use.

The Parks and Recreation Subcommittee report noted that Subcommittee members said there was a need for more parks in the county, for more multi-use fields at parks for sports such as lacrosse and soccer, and for passive parks with walking trails and green space separated from organized sporting activity.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Oconee County Fiscal Year 2018 Budget To Be Presented To Public On Tuesday

One New Full-Time Employee

Oconee County Finance Director Wes Geddings has presented the Board of Commissioners a $26.9 million General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which will be before the public for review on Tuesday.

Geddings told the commissioners he has not yet made his final revenue projections but he is “confident we have the revenue stream to support the expenditure request” without increasing the county’s millage rate.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends Special Use For Noncompliant Landscaping Business

Lacks Business License

Twelve-year-old Jack Senyitko gave a flawless presentation to the Oconee County Planning Commission on Monday night, arguing, on behalf of his family, against a special use request to operate a landscaping business on the northwest corner of New High Shoals Road and Union Church Road.

The young Senyitko’s comments won the praise of Planning Commission Chairman Dan Arnold, but not his vote.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Oconee County Planning Commission Once Again Scheduled To Review Plans For Residential Subdivision East Of Butler’s Crossing

Now Zoned For Retirement Community

A request by Stonebridge Partners LLC to rezone approximately 40 acres just east of Butler’s Crossing for a 35-lot single-family residential subdivision is back on the agenda of the Oconee County Planning Commission for tomorrow (Monday) night.

The request was on the Planning Commission agenda in November, December and February, and each time the applicant pulled the request from consideration at the last minute without explanation.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Oconee County Legislative Delegation Focused On Health Care In Talk About 2017 General Assembly Session

Waiting On Washington

Health care issues in the state dominated a briefing on the 2017 legislative session that Oconee County’s delegation to the Georgia General Assembly gave to county Republicans late last month.

Much of that briefing centered on the need for the state to provide adequate health care outside the major metropolitan areas and particularly outside Atlanta.