Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Public Hearings Set For Property Tax Increases For Oconee County

Millage Rate Unchanged

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners will hold three public hearings over the next month on a proposed 4.19 percent property tax increase in the unincorporated parts of the county and 5.01 percent increase in the four cities in the county.

The property tax increases result from the decision of the Board of Commission to maintain the millage rate of 6.686 in the unincorporated parts of the county and 7.656 in the incorporated areas at a time when assessed value of property is increasing.

Commission Chair John Daniell announced the required public hearings at the Board of Commissioners meeting last (Tuesday) night.

The first hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. on July 11, followed by additional hearings at noon on July 25 and at 6:30 p.m. on July 25. All of the hearings will be at the Commission Chamber in the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Daniell also announced that the Board of Commissioners will hold a Town Hall Meeting at 6:30 p.m. on July 13 at Oconee Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road.

Finally, Daniell announced the resignation of John Gentry as director of the Oconee County Department of Parks and Recreation. Gentry has served the county for 17 years, Daniell said.

Gentry Resignation

Gentry informed friends on Monday evening of his decision to accept the position of director of the Parks and Recreation Department of Gwinnett County.

He said he had submitted his resignation on Monday, effective July 7, and that he will assume his position in Gwinnett County on July 24.

Gentry, who lives off Daniells Bridge Road, said he plans to remain in the county.

County Administrator Jeff Benko confirmed the resignation to me on Tuesday morning and said “I will discuss with Board tonight and recommend we follow normal recruiting practices” to replace Gentry.

The Board went into executive session at the end of last night’s meeting to discussion personnel matters and Courthouse security.

Public Notice

State law requires the county to hold the public hearings even though it is maintaining the same millage, or tax, rate for the fiscal year starting on July 1 as it had for the fiscal year ending on Friday.

Daniell did not announce the effective increase in tax rate at the meeting last night, but the legal notice stating those rates appears on page A5 of tomorrow’s edition of The Oconee Enterprise, the county’s legal organ, or publication in which legal notices appear.

The statement also appears on the county’s web site.

According to that statement, the millage rate that the Board of Commissioners is expected to adopt of 6.686 for the unincorporated parts of the county would have been 6.417, or 0.269 mills less, if the Board had opted to reduce the rate to compensate for the increase in the tax digest.

City Taxes

For property owners in Bishop, Bogart, North High Shoals and Watkinsville, the millage rate would have been 7.291, rather than 7.656, or a difference of 0.365 mills, had the Board reduced the millage rate to compensate for the increase in the tax digest.

These are average figures, and the actual amount of tax increase or decrease a property owner pays will be determined by the changes in property assessments. The county sent out the statements of property assessments at the end of May.

Residents of the unincorporated parts of the county have a lower tax rate because of a rollback for insurance premiums dictated by the state.

Residents of the four cities also pay an additional property tax to cover the costs of city services.

Digest Change

According to the public notice in tomorrow’s Enterprise, the total county property taxes levied for 2017 is $12,212,823, or an increase of 7.11 percent over the $11,401,784 for last year.

The Board of Commissioners has approved a $26.9 million general fund budget, financed largely by property tax, for Fiscal Year 2018.

That budget represents an increase of 7.41 percent over the $25.1 million Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

The Fiscal Year 2017 budget was based on an increase in property taxes from the previous year of 5.08 percent, according to the legal document.


The Commission last night reviewed a proposal for the addition of three multi-purpose fields at Oconee Veterans Park.

The fields will include baseball diamonds and also large outfields that can be used for lacrosse.

The upgrade also includes 327 new parking spaces.

Daniell said the fields probably will not be usable until the fall of 2018.

The Commission also interviewed applicants for a number of citizen advisory committees.

The complete video of the meeting is below.

OCO: BOC 6 27 17 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Justin Kirouac Says He Focused On Oconee County In His Job Search Because Of The Opportunities It Presents

County Administrator Finalist

Justin Kirouac, currently assistant manager in Johns Creek, said he was not looking for jobs generally when he applied for the position of county administrator in Oconee County.

He said he was looking for the “right opportunity, the right fit,” and he “targeted” Oconee County when the job was advertised because of the “real opportunity” the job provided.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Watkinsville Awarded State Grant To Make Harden Hill Road More Pedestrian Friendly

In City Center

The State Road and Tollway Authority has awarded Watkinsville a grant of $298,800 for the construction of sidewalks and other improvements to Harden Hill Road.

The sidewalks will connect the city’s newly developed Watkinsville Woods city park and be linked to the city’s other sidewalk network that ties pedestrian traffic to Harris Shoals Park, the city’s community center and the new Extra Special People complex.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Women Running for U.S. And Georgia Houses Generated Excitement At Oconee Democratic Party Meeting

Against Hice and Quick

The two women were not the featured speakers at the Oconee County Democratic Party meeting on Tuesday night, but they got enthusiastic responses from those present.

Chalis Montgomery, a musician and music educator from Barrow County, told the group she intends to announce her candidacy for the 10th Congressional District seat and is seeking help in forming her campaign committee.

Oconee County Review Committee Approved Site Plans For Retail Building Near Oconee Health Campus

Fire Station Moving

The Oconee County Development Review Committee has approved the preliminary site plans for an 11,500-square-foot retail building on Jennings Mill Road opposite the newly opened Piedmont Athens Regional Oconee Health Campus.

The retail building will be on one of four lots on a 5 acre parcel tucked between Jennings Mill Road and the Oconee Connector at SR Loop 10. The recently cleared land abuts another 2.5-acre-parcel at the corner of Virgil Langford Road and Jennings Mill Road.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Oconee County Announces Sole Finalist for Position of County Administrator

Justin Kirouac Named

Oconee County Commissioners, following an executive session of just less than 40 minutes, today (Wednesday) announced that Justin Kirouac, assistant city manager of Johns Creek, is the sole finalist for the position of county administrator.

The Board of Commissioners is expected to take final action on the appointment at its meeting on July 11, according to Commission Chair John Daniell.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Votes To Spend $35,000 To Explore Sewer Option For Gateway Business Park

Also Considering Buildings

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority voted last week to spend $35,000 to determine if it can run a sewer line from the eastern to the western part of its Gateway Technology Business Park on the southwest edge of Bogart

The $35,000 also is for design work if running the sewer line proves to be feasible.