Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gilland Reports Raising Nearly $5,000 for Oconee County Commissioner Race

UGA Connection Helps

Tammy Tate Gilland confirmed her intention to run for Post 3 on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on April 1 when she filed a campaign contribution disclosure report indicating that she has raised $4,685 toward her campaign.

Though the first day to file for the office is April 26, Gilland has been accepting campaign contributions and was required to file the campaign contribution report.

Gilland listed $429 in expenses and a balance of $4,226 on hand. Most of the expenses were for stamps and office supplies.

Margaret Hale, who has held the Post 3 position since 2000, listed only $500 in contributions during the period covered--from the first of the year until the end of March--and indicated she has a balance in her campaign account of $223. She carried over $277 in unpaid expenses.

John Daniell, Post 2 commissioner, listed no contributions or expenses in his filing report. He said he has $54 on hand.

Hale and Daniell are the only two members of the five-person Commission up for election in the first election held since the county went to a split-term system. In 2008, Hale and Daniell were elected to two-year terms, rather than the usual four-year terms.

Hale and Daniell have indicated they plan to run for re-election. Daniell was elected to his first term in 2008.

Mack Guest, incumbent Post 2 Board of Education member, listed no income or expenses in his April 1 report. Guest indicated he is $1,206 in debt.

Kim Argo, incumbent Post 3 BOE member, also listed no income or expenditures and that she has a balance of $1,008 on hand.

Guest and Argo also were elected to two-year terms in 2008 in the first year the terms of the five BOE members had been staggered. For both, it was their first election to the Board, though Guest was serving out an unfinished term to which he had been appointed.

Gilland, a senior director in the Development Office at the University of Georgia, lists seven contributions of more than $100, totaling $2,000, and an additional $2,685 in contributions of $100 or less.

The largest single contributions were of $500 from Tom Landrum, the senior vice president of external affairs at UGA, and the same amount from Rhett and Julie Puder, listed as a psychologist and a physician on the report. Five of the seven contributions of more than $100 were from people listed as being affiliated with the University of Georgia.

Hale also works for the University of Georgia as an administrative specialist in the Library.

If Gilland files as a Republican, as is expected, she and Hale would meet in the Republican primary on July 20.

Hale, Daniell, Guest and Argo ran as Republicans in 2008.

The first opportunity for a candidate to file to run either as a Democrat or a Republic is at 9 a.m. on April 26 and the last opportunity is noon on April 30.

Since this is the first time Oconee County commissioners and BOE members have been elected in what normally would be an off-year, it is difficult to know how much attention and interest the election will generate.

Turnout for the 2008 primary was only 36 percent, but it was an even lower 24 percent in 2006, according to data released to me on Thursday by Pat Hayes, Oconee County director of elections.

In 2004, 40 percent of the registered voters turned out, but 42 percent voted in the July primary two years earlier.

In 2000, 45 percent of the registered electorate voted in the July primary, but it had been only 31 percent two years earlier.

Voters in Georgia do not register by party, so anyone can choose to participate in the primary.

My analysis of individual voting records for the 2008 July primary that I purchased from the Secretary of State’s office shows that 28 percent of those who chose to vote in the Democratic presidential primary in Oconee County in February of 2008 voted in the Republican primary in July of that same year.

Of those Oconee County voters who voted in the Democratic presidential primary in February, only 16 percent voted in the July Democratic primary, and the remainder didn’t vote.

Among Oconee County voters who voted in the 2008 Republican presidential primary, 62 percent voted in the July Republican primary. Less than 1 percent voted in the Democratic July primary, and the remainder didn’t vote.

Another way of looking at it is this: From among the nearly 6,333 Oconee County voters who case a ballot in the July 2008 Republican primary, 14 percent had cast a Democratic ballot in February.

Whether those “Democrats” will select a Democratic or a Republican ballot this year may be determined by the nature of other state and regional elections and by how much the candidates attempt to appeal across party lines. In 2008, there was little on the July Democratic primary ballot to encourage voters to select it.

Gilland lives at 1010 Hardwood court off Elder road near North High Shoals. Hale lives at 1901 Salem road south of Farmington.

Daniell lives at 1922 Elder road, or just north of Gilland.

Guest lives at 1070 Lake Wellbrook drive off Daniells Bridge road, and Argo lives at 1230 Bent Creek road near Hodges Mill road. Both are in the northern part of the county.

All members of the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education run at-large.

Public Phase of Oconee County 2011 Budget Process Begins

Parks and Rec in Lead Position

The budgeting process for the county for Fiscal Year 2011 moves into its public phase on Monday with the first of three scheduled meetings of department heads, elected officials and judicial officers with the members of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

The Monday meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the commission chamber at the courthouse with representatives of the Parks and Recreation Department, who will have 45 minutes to explain their budget request for the year beginning on July 1.

Also on Monday, the commissioners will hear from the Fire Department, the coroner and Animal Control. The meeting is scheduled to end about 8:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, the session starts at 9 a.m. with the Human Resources Department of the county and continues until the final session at 4:30 p.m. During the day the Board will hear from representatives of the Magistrate Court, Superior Court and Juvenile Court, the district attorney, planning, code enforcement, the library and others.

The final session starts at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday with the Utility Department, followed by the Public Works Department and the sheriff’s office. It ends with the Finance Department presentation starting at 7:45 p.m.

The budgeting process began on Jan. 26 when Finance Director Jeff Benko provided the Fiscal Year 2011 budget submittal plan to the BOC and is scheduled to end on June 1 with adoption of the budget by the Board at its regular meeting.

The Board will hold the first public hearing on the budget before its agenda-setting meeting on May 25 and the second public hearing before adoption of the budget on June 1. The first public hearing is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., while the second will be part of the regular meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

Wayne Provost, director of Strategic and Long-Range Planning for the county, gave an indication of how difficult the budgeting process is likely to be at a meeting with citizens on March 25 to discuss citizen efforts to protect Elder Mill and the area around Elder Mill Bridge.

He said that “we think” that property values in the county have gone down 3 to 5 percent, personal property values are down 13 to 14 percent, and the 1-cent-on-a-dollar sales tax is producing 7 to 10 percent less than a year earlier.

These are the sources of revenue for the county’s general fund, which covers 57 percent of its spending.

Provost said the projection is that the county will need to cut $1 to $1.5 million from the county’s roughly $35 million budget for next fiscal year. The county also can draw down its surplus, which has been running at about $10 million, and increase taxes, but the BOC has been reluctant to do either.

The biggest categories of spending from the General Fund are for public safety and judicial operations, making up 41 percent of the total. Public Works accounted for 12 percent of last year’s General Fund budget and Parks and Recreation received 11 percent.

The Utility Department has its budget outside the General Fund since much of its operation is funded by its own revenue. The budget for the Utility Department in 2010 was 18 percent of all expenditures, compared with the 57 percent figure for the General Fund.

County officials frequently point out that only 27 percent of property taxes citizens in the county pay are under the control of the Board of Commissioners, and that 72 percent goes to the Board of Education and 1 percent goes to the state.

The Board of Education also is in the budget process and is struggling with decreased state revenue as well as the drop in the local tax base and in sales tax revenue.

The range of services covered by the BOC-controlled budget is quite broad--from roads to sewers and water to tax collection itself. The BOE budget focuses exclusively on education.