EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The final steps are being prepared for the coming vote for a TSPLOST in May as East Ellijay City Council approves their resolution for an intergovernmental agreement.
This intergovernmental agreement is set to support the TSPLOST if approved on the May voting ballot. This agreement approves of the TSPLOST and the city’s percentage of the tax collection.
In January, a special called meeting between all three entities set the split for the TSPLOST as such, Gilmer County receives 92 percent, Ellijay receives 5.72 percent, and East Ellijay receives 1.93 percent.
The item now goes back to the Commissioners to approve the intergovernmental agreement on their end before officially moving forward to the next steps.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Paving roads and the amount of spending came into debate as the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners met with Mayors and members of City Hall from both Ellijay and East Ellijay today to discuss TSPLOST negotiations.
The discussion centered on the split that each entity wanted to see with the upcoming possible TSPLOST tax. Each entity vied for an increase to their portion over and above what they got for the previous SPLOST split. Debate arose around the idea of the cities increasing to a flat 2 percent for East Ellijay and 6 percent for Ellijay. This would be up from the 1.93 percent that East Ellijay has with the SPLOST split and up from 5.72 percent that Ellijay has.
However, as the discussion progressed, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris said he also wanted the county’s percentage to go up considering the 500 miles of road in the unincorporated parts of the county, roads maintained by the county.
The two mayors countered with arguments of their own. Mayor of Ellijay, Al Hoyle noted that many of the roads they maintain in the city are used more than those in the outer parts as people travel out of town on city-maintained roads to reach the county roads.
East Ellijay Mayor Mack West added to the notion saying that East Ellijay has a constant need for Eller Road as an example. Due to the high traffic and usage, the road is already showing cracks after only three years since paving.
However, the topic ultimately came to rest at proceeding with the same split that each entity sees on the normal SPLOST, Gilmer County receives 92 percent, Ellijay receives 5.72 percent, and East Ellijay receives 1.93 percent.
However, the negotiations of percentage were not the only discussion held in the meeting as citizens debated the TSPLOST in the Citizens Wishing to Speak section.
Bill Craig, of North Georgia Diamond, voiced his opinion that the retail business community may have been left out of the discussion on the topic. Saying that the county hasn’t considered the impact to businesses that more sales tax might have. He offered scenarios to consider that people visiting might go elsewhere or stop early to buy groceries or similar necessities if they visit Ellijay, or that someone might visit another county to buy larger items like his store provides, being jewelry and diamonds.
While Paris did say he met with one retailer privately to discuss the topic, Craig repeated that he felt the county had not done enough to understand the business impact.
Mayor West commented on possible impact saying if he was going to buy something like a diamond, he would shop with North Georgia Diamond over driving to Atlanta for only a $100 difference, coming from the 1 percent sales tax increase.
Craig went on to say that adding TSPLOST would make Gilmer one of the highest sales tax percentages in the state.
In fact, according to the Georgia Sales and Use Tax Rate Chart (pictured to the right) published, for January 2020, by the Georgia Department of Revenue, of the 159 counties in Georgia, just over half of them have an 8 percent sales tax.
Actually, 83 counties have an 8 percent sales tax, while 69 counties (including Gilmer) have a 7 percent sales tax, 4 counties have a 6 percent sales tax, and only one county, Ware County, has a 9 percent sales tax. This does exclude Fulton and DeKalb counties with split sales tax in parts of the county according to this document.
Also, there are 87 counties that currently have some form of a TSPLOST, whether it is the original state TSPLOST or a locally added TSPLOST after that statewide vote.
Looking more specifically to the Highway 515 corridor, as some have called it, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, and Union Counties all, currently, have a sales tax rate of 7 including LOST (Local Option Sales Tax), SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), and ESPLOST (Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).
One more comment of major note came from Chairman Paris who said, “I’m fine with it either way,” when discussing if the TSPLOST will pass on the ballots. Paris admitted a large amount of pressure on him from the public. He has stated in previous meetings that he feels the road department and the county’s roads are progressing. He ultimately simplified the discussion and the TSPLOST vote as he summed it up by saying its a decision on if we want our roads fixed over the next 25 years or the next 5 years. The TSPLOST, as he described, is simply a way to achieve the same results faster.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners is advertising a meeting early in the new year with the city governments of Ellijay and East Ellijay.
This Special Called Meeting, set for January 7, 2020, at 10 a.m., has only one agenda item, “Discussion and possible action of Intergovernmental Agreement for a proposed T-SPLOST with the Cities of Ellijay and East Ellijay.”
The meeting is actually set the day before the county is set to hold its January Workshop, scheduled for January 8, 2019, at 9 a.m.
While not fully confirmed, the county has held similar meetings in the past when discussing their SPLOST renewal in 2018 where they negotiated each of the cities’ percentage that they would take from the tax. At that time, it was confirmed that the county could have moved forward without the cities, but noted several benefits to cooperating and negotiating their involvement.
With the TSPLOST, there has been no specific discussion on the need, benefits, or reason for involving the cities since the Board already approved the TSPLOST to go for a vote on the ballots without them. However, County Attorney David Clark did say at that meeting that the county needed to finalize details and work on a few more items before they would be ready to put it on the ballot.
In any scenario, at this time, it appears the county will be reaching out to the cities for their support of or involvement in the TSPLOST in the coming week.
Public Release by Becky Denney and Sonny Proctor
JASPER, Ga. – On Thursday December 5th the Economic Development Director Hiring Committee had a called meeting to see a presentation from one of the candidates who is being considered for this exciting new position. The purpose of this position will be to add industrial recruitment and development to our community, and to support existing business in their growth needs. Georgia leads our nation in economic development, and 70-80% of economic development in our state is in growing existing businesses. The meeting, held at the Atlantic Coast Conservancy, included special guests Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Jones and Jasper Mayor Elect Steve Lawrence. The committee, which is made up of three county and three city members, has been working with The Chason Group of Georgia to find a new executive level economic development director. Once the selection is made, they will begin an economic development strategic plan, also facilitated by The Chason Group. The group hopes to have a decision and an announcement made soon. This position will be a true partnership between the county, the Pickens County Development Authority, the City of Jasper and the Chamber of Commerce and will bring experience and expertise to this critical role. As a demonstration of this partnership, Jasper City Manager Brandon Douglas was recently elected to the Development Authority. The cost of the program will be a combination of city and county funds, resolved by an intergovernmental agreement, as well as private sector funds, including in kind contributions from the chamber of commerce. Pictured (L-R): Amicalola Electric CEO Todd Payne, consultant Mark Lytle of The Chason Group, Jasper City Councilman and Committee Co-Chair Sonny Proctor, County Commissioner and committee Co-Chair Becky Denney, Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Jones, Chairman of the Development Authority Don Boggus, Chamber of Commerce President and C.E.O. Amberle Godfrey, Jasper City Councilman Kirk Raffield, Mayor Elect Steve Lawrence and Jasper City Manager Brandon Douglas.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County’s 2019 Election Results are rolling in tonight, November 5, 2019, as citizens elect a replacement Post 1 Commissioner for the vacancy left by Dallas Miller’s Resignation last month as well as a new Ellijay City Council.
This article will continued to be updated throughout the night until final results come in.
With 13 of the 13 voting precincts in Gilmer County reported and early votes counted, the results follow:
Post 1 Commissioner 2019 Election Results:
Jason Biggs: 227 votes
Al Cash: 249 votes
Hubert Parker: 1360 votes
Ed Stover: 206 votes
Jerry Tuso: 91 votes
Having received 63.70%, Probate Judge Scott Chastain has stated there will not be a runoff.
Hubert Parker offered a comment on the victory saying, “I’m elated at the confidence the voters expressed in me. I’ll do my best to serve all the citizens of Gilmer County.”
When asked if he was happy to not be going to a runoff. Parker said he was obviously happy to have it done now and to the county can move on with their business.
Ellijay City Council: 2019 Election Results
Charles Barclay: 71 votes
Jerry Baxter: 64 votes
Tom Crawford: 82 votes
Jerry Davis: 54 votes
Brent Defoor: 78 votes
Al Fuller (incumbent) : 110 votes
Katie Lancey (incumbent) : 81 votes
Sandy Ott: 126 votes
Kevin Pritchett: 109 votes
Brad Simmons: 74 votes
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer Chamber hosted their 2019 Ellijay City Council Candidate Forum this week, and with only five days to election day, the final stretch of the race is still seeing the candidates working hard for votes in the city.
However, its not just the voters watching this election as local business owners and even some of the county’s Commissioner Candidates were on hand to listen to these speeches. Though not all live in the city limits to be eligible to vote, business owners said they were present as they wanted to know what the city’s future, and therefore their businesses, hold.
The City Council Candidate Forum lasted from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. Each candidate was given 3 minutes to speak to citizens about their campaign. Afterwards, these candidates took time to speak personally with attendees in a “Mix & Mingle” format.
With one candidate absent, those present for the forum included incumbents Al Fuller and Katie Lancey and new candidates Jerry Baxter, Tom Crawford, Jerry Davis, Brent Defoor, Sandy Ott, Kevin Pritchett, and Brad Simmons. Charles Barclay was not present.
However, this forum isn’t the only stop this week on the campaign trail as FYN spotted candidates at the 2019 Chili Challenge speaking to citizens and enjoying the event. And with five days left until Election day, the candidates are working harder than ever trying to get last minute moments with voters. This year’s election format could see five completely new candidates on the council. With the previous withdrawal of candidate Lynelle Reece Stewart, there will definitely be, at least, three new faces to the council next year.
For citizens of Ellijay, Tuesday will be very busy as they not only vote for the newest Ellijay City Council but, as citizens of the county as well, also for their new Post 1 Commissioner to fill in the remainder of Dallas Miller’s term on the Board of Commissioners.
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.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Qualifying ended this week in Ellijay with 11 candidates on the ballot for the coming City Council Elections.
While the position of Mayor saw no competition against incumbent Al Hoyle, the positions for council members have become highly contested for the three positions up for election.
According to the official release from the City of Ellijay, those who have qualified include:
AL FULLER (INCUMBENT)
291 Westwood Dr., Ellijay, GA 30540
KATIE LANCEY (INCUMBENT)
86 Oakland Ct., Ellijay, GA 30540
LYNELLE REECE STEWART (INCUMBENT)
85 River St., Ellijay, GA 30540
62 Pine Street, Ellijay, GA 30540
KEVIN DOUGLAS PRITCHETT
342 The Oaks Dr., Ellijay, GA 30540
205 Kell St., Ellijay, GA 30540
SANDY D. OTT
387 Old Tails Creek Rd., Ellijay, GA 30540
WILLIAM JERRY BAXTER
260 Gartrell St., Ellijay, GA 30540
118 North Ave., Ellijay, GA 30540
40 River St., Ste. C, Ellijay, GA 30540
95 Lucille Ave., Ellijay, GA 30540
City elections hold no partisanship and will be set for November 5, 2019, as election day. According to a recent release from the city, “If there is a need for a runoff election, the date of this election will be December 3, 2019.”
EAST ELLIJAY – With Qualifying finished and the names gathered, East Ellijay will officially skip the elections process once again this year.
Each member of the current council has requalified with no one running against them. With no contest, City Manager Mack Wood tells FYN that the city will not be moving forward with any of the remaining processes for voting booths, early voting, or campaigning.
The current council will remain with the following incumbents having qualified:
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Next week, the City of East Ellijay will hold qualifying for the coming November elections.
Qualifying will be available from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., from Monday, August 19, 2019, until Wednesday, August, 21, 2019. Those wishing to qualify for the office of Mayor or one of the four City Council Members positions can do so at City Hall, 107 Oak Street, East Ellijay, Georgia.
According to East Ellijay’s official release, “The qualifying fee shall be $100.00 for the office of City Council and $1,000.00 for the office of Mayor.”
With qualifying set, candidates who qualify by end of day on August 21, 2019, will be placed on the November 5, 2019, Election day.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The city of Ellijay is officially announcing next week, Monday, August 19, 2019, through Wednesday, August 21, 2019, as Qualifying week for the coming November Elections.
Available from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each day, citizens wishing to run for position of Mayor of Ellijay or one of the five City Council positions can qualify at this time at City Hall, 197 North Main Street, Ellijay, Georgia.
According to Ellijay’s official release, “The qualifying fee for said office(s) will be $716.37 for the office of Mayor and $91.50 for a City Council Member.”
With qualifying set, candidates who qualify by end of day on August 21, 2019, will be placed on the November 5, 2019, Election day. The city states that if a runoff is needed in the election, they have already set December 3, 2019, as the runoff date.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – East Ellijay is continuing more than just property tax waivers for the ‘19-’20 fiscal year as they presented and approved their budget in June’s meeting.
Introducing the new budget, East Ellijay Mayor Mack West noted in his discussion that the ‘18-’19 budget did not need to take money from reserves to balance the budget as projected. The final financial reporting shows approximate revenues at $1,590,000 and actual expenditures at $1,380,000, leaving a $210,000 excess of revenue over expenditures.
Continuing into the next fiscal year, the council approved the waiver of solid waste, semi-weekly, residential curb-side pick-up fees city residents. According to a letter the West provided the council, “business and commercial entities use area contractors for waste disposal” and are not a part of the waiver.
Another item the city is continuing comes as a finish to last year’s budget. The council approved an $800 bonus to city employees, coming in July. Mayor West stated during the meeting that due to the diligence of employees and efforts to keep expenditures low, all employees would receive the bonus.
The bonus has been done for years, so many in fact, that council members could not remember exactly when the tradition began. Continuing the bonus still required the council’s approval,however, as is done every year.
West applauded the city’s staff in the letter saying, “All City Employees, including our many contract employees, are well trained, dedicated individuals with performance levels above and beyond expectations. As long as we have a good team and work together, we can provide the required services to our citizens without any property tax assessements.”
The letter also gave a statement on the city’s current financial status at the end of May 2019. With eight General Fund CD’s, the city holds $2,127,879.51. They also hold two SPLOST CD’s totaling $330,548.54.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The city council of East Ellijay voted this week to formally adopt their 2019 tax year millage rate.
Mayor of East Ellijay, Mack West recommended the council reduce their millage from 3.5 to 3 mils. However, he also recommended a continuation of waiving all personal and business property taxes.
According to West’s letter to the council, “Property Taxes have not been collected in East Ellijay since 1976.”
Approval came in two motions as the city first unanimously approved the millage rate reduction. Then, the second motion approved the waiving of the property tax.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – With new information coming from an unrelated meeting last week of Gilmer County’s Board of Commissioners, citizens have been seeking clarifications on issues regarding the community pool that has become a central topic in Gilmer County since the official closing of the current pool this month.
Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris took measure this week to clarify a few of these questions. Though two of the county commissioners listened to a presentation from a local pool company and later said that they did like the designs in that presentation, Paris said the county must still go through engineering and design processes as a part of the bid process for the county. Paris also sternly said that the project has a budget and many of the talks about things he or other commissioners may “want” to be included, could be left out because of budget constraints.
However, preliminary discussions, along with a rough design the county presented earlier this month as a visual of how they would like to go, showed that the new recreation center will not have one, but two pools. Each pool would house its own filtration system. But each pool would be drastically different. The primary pool would be five feet deep, would have rope floats to designate swim lanes when used for that purpose but be removed for use by the general public, would host a slide in a side “recessed” area, and would be an indoor pool. The secondary pool would have a ramp entry to wade into the pool, would only reach three feet deep, and could eventually host accessories like fountains, extra slides, or other accoutrements. Additionally, this secondary pool would not be open year-round as the heaters would only be used on the indoor pool.
Paris was adamant that many of these design thoughts were simply preliminary ideas that have come from citizens, board meetings, and his own thoughts. Paris said that he hopes the county could move forward with engineering and designs to have the basics understood and be able to answer questions and make changes for items that citizens want during one more “town hall” meeting, possibly in July or August.
With continued talk of additions, second pools, basketball courts, paved parking lots, fountains, and coverings, Paris specified the plan for the pool as he said all of these things are additional items. What needs to happen by next year is the “primary” pool, dressing rooms, and bathrooms. This is the core of what citizens could see if the county is able to open the pool next year. Paris repeated previous statements to FYN that while he has set the goal of opening by Memorial Day, 2020, he understands the aggressiveness of that plan and the possibility that it may be later.
However, Paris did note his personal preferences on the pool should the budget allow for an added items. He said that while priority one is the primary pool with dressing rooms and bathrooms, he did have mixed feelings about the shallow pool and covering saying, “If I have a choice, initially, by this time next year, if I can have the cover or I can have the shallow pool, and then, the following year, I can come back and get the other one. Then I would take the shallow pool. If we don’t have enough for either of those, we’re going to have to come back and add them later on, then I would give priority for adding the cover before adding the shallow pool.”
Though he offered his opinion on this, Paris did state that this is his own opinion. The BOC still has two other commissioners and the citizens input for designs to consider.
When questioned about the priority of paving the parking lot, he noted that the county did a similar thing with the Clear Creek Ball Fields project as they used a gravel parking lot as the fields were completed, and came back the following year to pave the lot.
Paris also repeated the county’s plans to have engineering done all at once and engineered in such a way that the construction projects could be done later when the county is able to fund them. This has become a stressed point in the county’s movement toward construction of this new pool. While plans and engineering designs are to be done all at once, both the county’s current verbal agreement with East Ellijay and the Commissioners meetings have concluded with understandings that the construction of a full “Recreation Center” would come later and in pieces, one project at a time.
More questions have arisen with the possibility of two options for land for the pool location, 29 acres from the Gilmer County Charter School System and 21 acres from East Ellijay. While Paris said that it is currently the county’s intention to move forward with the River Park location, they do still have the option should “extreme need” force them to reconsider. While it is a “Plan B” option, Paris said that it was still their just in case.
Some citizens have also raised concerns about the land being so close to the river just as the last pool was. Paris noted that while flooding and weather were never really a major issue with the pool, much of the problems they have encountered recently could be attributed to the pools age. Additionally, the county is currently employing its surveyor to investigate the land. While the current pool sits in a flood plain, Paris said that it is his understanding that part of the land coming from East Ellijay is only partly in the flood plain. Depending on how much of it is in the flood plain, the county could push the parking lot for the center closer to the river while building the center closer to Progress Road, along Soccer Field Road, allowing the pools and part of the center to be out of the flood plain. Later, Paris did also mention a side note that this lot may be used for additional parking during the Apple Festival as well.
He went on to say that this is another part of the process that they will need to deal with during planning and designing. As the county awaits the surveyors reports, Paris said that he would engage the surveyor to provide the report and mark the flood plain with stakes so the county could inspect the size and plan mitigation accordingly.
The county is also working through basic needs for the pool as it talks with the Ellijay Gilmer County Water and Sewerage Authority and insurance liabilities as well. On that note, Paris did say that he does not believe they will pursue options for a diving well and diving board in the new pool due to liability reasons.
FYN also questioned if Paris would use the Road Department again, similar to the Cherry Log Fire Station, to make preparations or clear the land. Paris said it would be something he’d do if needed, but “it’s not something that I would prefer.” He made note that the county used the Road Department during the Cherry Log Fire Station project after they put the project out to bid, but got prohibitively high bids on the project.
Paris did confirm that the county has been offered this land before, but the current agreement from East Ellijay would offer the land free of monetary costs. He also confirmed that the agreement would have the county agreeing to build a full recreation center instead of just a pool. However, he did note that, as previously stated, it is understood that the Recreation Center would come later through stages of construction.
Make sure to stay with FYN as we continue to reach out to Gilmer’s other commissioners for their opinions and for updated information on the pool project as it becomes available.
ELLIJAY, Ga.- The Ellijay City Council met on Monday, March 18, 2019, to discuss a number of action items, including a Setback Variance for 171 Skyline Drive, a Resolution and Ordinance to Amend Chapter 6, Articles I through III of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Ellijay, as well as an Urban Redevelopment Plan.
At 5:30 p.m., before the start of the regular meeting, the council introduced Gilmer County’s latest Public Safety Director, Keith Kucera. Kucera stated that his job was to work with all of the entities within the county to try and provide services that we can obtain through grants or other means to assist the county. Coming from a military background (United States Coastguard for 25 years), Kucera states that he’s here to do whatever he can to make things better for this community.
The other order of business that was discussed prior to the regular meeting involved Jodie Beauregard from the Master Gardener Volunteers of the Gilmer County Extension Office, regarding the placement of of a community garden at Harrison Park. The proposed garden is awaiting land clearing, and access to electricity to recharge equipment used throughout the garden. A spigot installation would also be required. Beauregard states that they would need a way to get water into a rain barrel, and so a building with gutters would be preferred if at all possible. Education space is also a request, as Beauregard states they plan on offering education on gardening. The Harrison Park Advisory Board, as well as Mayor Al Hoyle both agree that a Master Plan is an absolute must prior to the installation of the community garden, and so there has been no further action taken at this time.
At 6 p.m., the Setback Variance for 171 Skyline Drive passed with none opposed. This Setback Variance was a request made by the property owner to encroach 12 feet into the required front residential setback and 10 feet into the side setback.
The Resolution and Ordinance to Amend Chapter 6, Articles I through III of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Ellijay also passed with none opposed. According to Hoyle, this Resolution and Ordinance serves the purpose of removing the 60-day waiting period for the home premise consumption license, as well as changes the Farm winery tasting license, stating that anything the state allows, it puts the licensing under the city instead of under state guidance. It also clarifies the application process for Farm winery tasting rooms, making it the same as an on premise consumption license.
Finally, the Urban Redevelopment plan also passed without any opposition.
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Ellijay, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council held a first of two readings of the condemnation of two properties this month, at 47 Boardtown Rd and 292 Cox Creek Rd.
Councilman David Westmoreland noted that some of the issues have “been in disrepair for years.” With the first reading done, the process is underway and action will be taken in February.
The condemnation, according to the ordinances read, will require the property owners to demolish and remove the structures on the properties with sixty days if passed. If not adhered to, the city will remove the structures at the property owners expense.
The two ordinances for reading are below for both properties.