East Ellijay to Annex 18 acres

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EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – With the Public Hearing and first reading in August, the city of East Ellijay is set to annex new property into the city.

Totaling 18.66 acres, Mayor Mack West said the land is “part of the old Reece property.” It will convert from an Agricultural property to R1 – Residential as it becomes part of East Ellijay.

However, as only the first reading, citizens still have a chance to comment or discuss the annexation at the final reading and adoption during the council’s September meeting.

Additionally, in the meeting, the council is moving forward with purchasing a used Ford truck for the street department. The city is looking to purchase the vehicle owned and being used for city work by one of its employees.

City Manager Mack Wood told the council that this truck would save some money in gas usage as the current truck utilizes diesel fuel. The city will use the truck for trash pick-up, putting out signs when needed, and other needed city uses as they arise.

The city also approved an engagement letter from Welch Walker and Associates for the city’s audit. Mayor West called the $9,500 “a bargain” as he told the council the company has not changed the prices in six years. With this approval, Welch Walker and Associates will move forward with the audit of the fiscal year having ended on June 30, 2019.

West also said this would be the tenth year that the city has used this company.

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BOE Awarded for second year of Excellence in Financial Audit

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education has received an award from the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts for Excellence in its Financial Audit for the second year.

The press release for the award states:

The Gilmer County Board of Education earned the” Award of Distinction for Excellent Financial Reporting ” issued by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts for FY 2017. This award was established to recognize excellence in financial reporting and controls. It encourages governmental organizations to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and recognizes individual organizations that are successful in achieving this goal.

Trina Penland, Gilmer BOE Director of Finance

Trina Penland, Gilmer BOE Director of Finance

Though the Board receives the award as the reporting entity, they lay the recognition at the feet of Chief Financial Officer Trina Penland and the finance staff who manage the preparations and reporting for the Board.

According to Mary Dilbeck of the Department of Audits and Accounts, they delivered only 32 of these awards out of the 159 entities they do the audits for, stating the rest are covered by CPA firms. The award showcases a reporting excellence recognized by the state agency. However, it was also noted that many entities pay consulting firms to prepare the financial reports. The Gilmer BOE does not pay an outside firm as Penland and her staff prepares the documents and filings themselves.

This award is presented to organizations that submit quality financial statements and supporting documentation in a timely manner. To receive this award, the organization’s annual financial report must also be free of any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, comply with all Transparency in Government requirements, and be given an unmodified audit opinion.

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Clean Audit Brings Second Award to Gilmer Schools

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For the second time in 3 years, Gilmer County Schools and its Chief Financial Officer and Director of Finance, Trina Penland, have been awarded for Distinction for Excellent Financial Reporting by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts.

According to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, the award was established to “recognize excellence in financial reporting and controls. It encourages governmental organizations to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and recognizes individual organizations that are successful in achieving this goal.”

This award comes alongside the School Systems Audit Report with no findings and no questions on accounts, a feat lauded as extremely difficult by Board Chairman Jim Parmer. In fact, of the 150 counties that this state department reports on, only 27 have received this distinction this year. Some of the qualifications for the award require the annual financial report “must also be free of any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, comply with all Transparency in Government requirements, and be given an unmodified audit opinion.”

Although the award is for Gilmer County Schools as a whole, both Chairman Parmer and Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes applauded their CFO Trina Penland and her hard work as the foundation of the school system’s success on this report.

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Ellijay Joins Appeal Process at Monthly Meeting

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The City of Ellijay has joined the Board of Commissioners and the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority in appealing the Georgia Department of Community Health’s decision regarding Piedmont’s Emergency Department and Gilmer County’s Certificate of Need. The vote came during last night’s City Council Meeting. The Council voted 4-0 with Lynelle Stewart abstaining from the vote stating she just didn’t know the effect this would have on the Emergency Department that is supposed to come to the county and she did not understand the issue.

Discussion also began in the public comments from several local business owners and citizens to consider allowing the sale of wine from local wineries during city events to fund 501c3 efforts and organizations. Sherryl Adams of Mountain Treasures began the conversation saying, “Ellijay is nationally known for its wine” due to publications like Wine Chronicles and national awards in competitions. She asked the council to consider one day event licenses to allow the sale at local events such as the 4th of July celebration, though Mayor Al Hoyle noted an ordinance change would not be able to pass before that event. Members of the council showed interest in listening to the ideas of potential change including David Westmoreland who mentioned options for one day licenses to include wine sellers while still considering the local businesses that sell beer, but wanted to support the charities via the 501c3.

Mayor Hoyle stated he would be consulting the city’s Alcohol Committee to consider the potential change.

After a brief discussion involving the property owner and a neighbor, the Council did vote 4-1 to rescind their Condemnation of the Johnson House in the City. Katie Lancey was the Council woman in opposition stating in the meeting she had not seen a specific plan or written document to guarantee the residence wouldn’t return to its previous state.

Financially, the City Council accepted the 2015 Audit as well as approved Budget Amendments to reflect the 2015 Actuals. After a presentation from Pamela Fox of the Marshall Insurance Agency and Barber Wilson and Chris Walker of J. Smith Lanier & Co, the Council approved the Property and Liability Insurance Proposal by Glatfelter Public Practice at $35,888 (p. 82). Check out the Audit and Financials as well as the Insurance proposals here.

One final note of the meeting came as the Mayor tabled the discussion for a vacancy in the Historic Preservation Committee due to a lack of nominations for the position.

 

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