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 Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Meeting this week to both look back and forge ahead in the community.
Part of preparing for the new year includes announcing awards that span both years in their importance. Winners are awarded because of so much they have contributed to the community, honoring the life achievement these citizens and businesses have accomplished. Yet, moving into the new year, they stand as leaders and examples the community may follow.
This year, Gilmer’s 2018 Member of the Year was named Sally Daniels.
Piedmont Mountainside received the award for Business of the Year.
The 2018 Citizen of the Year award went to Steven Purvis.
Purvis later took to social media saying, “I want to begin by thanking God for giving me the ability and the opportunities that have been laid before me. I want to thank my parents for giving me my work ethic and teaching me that the things you do everyday impact many more people than you will ever know. I want to thank my wife for putting up with me and all my crazy ideas over the years and my kids for challenging me to be a better father and a better person every day. I want to thank the staff at Huff’s and Huff’s Express for all the support and encouragement they have given me over the years and for covering for me all the times I was out and about occupied with different groups. Thank you to all my patients who have supported Huff’s Drug Store over the years and given me the opportunity to practice pharmacy in Ellijay for the last 20 years. I am very humbled by this honor and can only hope that I live up to the standards set for such a prestigious award.”
The day also saw the official transition as Board of Directors Past-Chairman Trent Sanford passed the gavel and position to Chairman John Marshall. The formal transition came mid-meeting before the awards were handed out.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Council approved a new patrol car for the city police as they trade in two older cars. The 2019 Dodge has a base price of $28,900, but East Ellijay City Police Chief Larry Callihan said they are continuing to negotiate the trade in value of their two cars and is unsure yet how the exact amount of the trade in.
The council has already budgeted for the new car in the amount of $30,000 for the vehicle and $8,000 for equipment, a total of $38,000. With the trade-ins negotiations, Callihan is hopeful to make the final price closer to $32,000.
The council also approved a resolution to amend their payments for their citizen representatives on the Gilmer County Library Board, lowering the pay by $200 because they “misconstrued” the number of meetings the Library Board had in a year according to Mayor Mack West. The reduction goes from $600 to $400.
The Council also approved the expenditures for their yearly Christmas dinner program. Delivering a total of 34 hams and 5 turkeys, the expense for the city reached $648.60 at program end.
Also, two major additions could be coming to Highland Crossing near Walmart in East Ellijay. The Buffalo Luke’s in Jasper is looking to expand in Ellijay. City Manager Mack Wood also noted he had received site plans for a Moe’s Southwest Grill looking to build in the area between Longhorn and Mountain Cinemas.
The City Council is also seeking suggestions of roads in need of restriping. West said he will keep the item on the agenda in coming meetings and is asking for people to add to the list of needs.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – After last month’s arguments of legislative versus home rule as the way to go forward with Post Commissioner salaries, this month saw the continuation of that debate.
The next step, a question brought forward from the budget sessions into last months meeting and now into the new year, is the percentage of the raise. Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris originally had offered a number of 20%. Though not arbitrarily thrown out, Paris has since said he was offering the number as a consideration.
Since that time, articles and discussion have focused on 20% as the proposed amount for the Post Commissioner salary increase. Even FYN offered analysis based upon that 20% suggestion.
This percentage is a percentage of the Commission Chairman’s salary. Post Commissioners are currently paid 10% of the chairman’s salary.
This month saw the discussion shift after some pushback from the community over “doubling” the salary.
Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson wasted no time in researching the issue and offering the board her own analysis, one of surrounding counties and their boards’ salaries.
Reaching through 2016, 2017, and 2018, these documents from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs showcased salaries of both the Chairperson and the Post Commissioners, organized into population size groups. Ferguson highlighted the Gilmer and its immediate neighbors like Lumpkin, Fannin, and Pickens.
A new percentage offered in the BOC’s January meetings sits fell to 18% with Ferguson saying, “We talked about 18%, I think going any lower than 18%… I’m in favor of at least 18%.”
Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller stated in the meeting that though he thought the raise was deserved, he would be satisfied with not changing the salary at this time saying, “I, personally, think it’s not a good time to be doing this.” Miller did ultimately vote against the motion to advertise the salary increase in a 2-1 vote.
In 2018, Lumpkin County was at $12,005 annually according to this report. Pickens was at $11,205.
Currently, Gilmer County Post Commissioners are paid $7,125.38 as reported in “Commissioners pushing for ‘Fast Answer’ in pay raises.” With an 18% instead of a 20% increase, effectively not quite doubling the salary, the new base pay of a Post Commissioner would become $12,825.68.
Ferguson also noted in the board’s work session that this change would not take effect for two years, when the next elected Post Commissioner will take office.
Approved, 2-1, for advertising, it is now up to the citizens to speak with the Board of Commissioners and attend February’s meetings to voice the county’s opinion on the matter whether in support or opposition of the change.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – A not-unexpected turn of events saw the Board of Commissioners (BOC) strike the two items from their agenda on Thursday that involved an Audit and a Contract Termination for the Gilmer Chamber.
Despite this, it doesn’t mean the end of this issue between the two entities. With both sides having agreed that the Hotel/Motel Tax usage by the Chamber is required to have an audit, and moving forward imposing that requirement, a major issue is being resolved. However, it doesn’t mean that citizens won’t be hearing about the issue again in coming sessions.
As Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson stated in their work session, she is wanting to look deeper at the Chamber, the date of the automatic contract renewal, and the Hotel/Motel Tax split. Though most of the discussion at the work session centered on clarifying “if” and “why” a termination would be required to renegotiate the contract and look at some of the expectations from both parties, the lasting issue is still persisting.
Chamber President Paige Green provided a prepared statement on behalf of the Chamber which asked them to reconsider the termination. But much of its points also addressed the issue of changing the split. One sentence stated, “Defunded or reduced funding towards those efforts or even extended negotiation period without resolution will have immediate and long term effects on the great work that has been done to bring us to this point in time.”
Her statement also reaffirms the Chambers commitment to “an open dialogue this year and to answer any questions you have in regards to our efforts.”
The commissioners did not vote down the termination, however. As previously reported in “Chamber Contract in question at BOC,” Ferguson stated several times during the work session that she thought termination was the only way to renegotiate the contract with its pending automatic renewal. Instead of voting down the termination, all three commissioners unanimously approved an agenda change to remove the items from the agenda with the clarification that it was agreed that the audit was required and would start being provided.
This leaves the state of the Gilmer Chamber in a flux of moving forward with an automatic renewal schedule to take effect next week, but knowing that 2019 will be a year in review as the Commissioners look closer at the Hotel/Motel Tax and the Chamber in general.
Ferguson noted during the work session that the Gilmer Chamber holds one of the highest Hotel/Motel tax split-percentages in the state. It was also noted by several chamber members and chamber board members that the Gilmer Chamber was also noted by people across the state as one of the best and most effective chambers.
As both entities move forward in the year, the discussion of the underlying issue will arise. For now, the preamble comes to a close avoiding what Commission Chairman Charlie Paris said would have been “a very, very serious mistake for Gilmer County.”
The Gilmer Chamber will hold it’s 40th Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 17th, 11:30 AM at First Baptist Church of Ellijay located at 164 Dalton Street. The Chamber is honored to have Georgia State University’s Head Baseball Coach, Greg Frady as the guest speaker. Coach Frady is an Ellijay native who graduated from Gilmer High School in 1981 where he was voted most valuable player on both the baseball and basketball teams his senior year. He was inducted into the Gilmer High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. In 1987, Coach Frady graduated from Troy State where he received a bachelor’s degree in education and recreation. Coach Frady continued his education at Columbus State where he received his master’s degree in administration in 1989.
Additionally, the Citizen of the Year, Member of the Year and Business of the Year will be announced along with a look back at 2018. The annual meeting will also see the new chamber board and officers installed.
Registration is available online at www.gilmerchamber.com or call 706-635-7400. Business attire is suggested. Cost $25 per person. All are welcome.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council has released the dates for their 2019 meetings.
Set for the third Monday of each month with a workshop at 5:30 p.m. and regular meeting at 6:00 p.m., the meetings are set for the following dates:
DEVIATIONS FROM THIS CALENDAR WILL BE PUBLISHED VIA PUBLIC NOTICE
NOTICE OF ANY SPECIAL MEETING SHALL BE POSTED ON THE FRONT WINDOW LOCATED AT CITY HALL, 197 NORTH MAIN STREET, AND ON THE CITY OF ELLIJAY WEBSITE