By REBECCA HAZEN
Jamison Griffin, President of the Scenic Dade Development Company, spoke to the Board of Commissioners about the progress of the Town Creek Trail project during the Commission’s Thursday, Sept. 1 meeting.
Currently, phase 1.2 of the trail is being worked on, which is the Court Facility and Citizens Bank phase.
To date, Scenic Dade (501c3) has raised and reserved $261,000 for phase 1.2. However, due to inflation and gas prices, and other rising prices, Scenic Dade has estimated the new budget to be an extra $20,000.
Griffin asked if the County Commissioners would consider a gift to Scenic Dade of $20,000 to specifically pay for stormwater piping and erosion control behind the Courts Facility property.
“The contractor has already purchased the piping because there was fear that the pricing was going to go up,” Griffin said.
Some of the Commissioners showed concern. Commissioner Lamar Lowery asked if the Commission was even allowed to give money as a gift. County Attorney Robin Rogers confirmed that the Commission can not make charitable contributions.
“I would suggest the board meet with Trenton to see what they can do,” Rogers said.
“You had engineering done on this prior to starting the project. You just wanted us to give you an easement at the time. This is your project. I don’t feel comfortable putting taxpayers’ money, even though it is ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money, into the project,” Commissioner Phillip Hartline said.
Commissioner Robert Goff said that he wouldn’t feel comfortable making a decision that night until they could look at the ARPA funds and see what is already earmarked.
Also, during the meeting Paula Duvall, Chief Appraiser at Dade County Assessor’s Office spoke about a yearly report that was received from the Department of Audits.
“Some of our numbers aren’t where they should be. We do have some issues this year … Our residential COD (coefficient of dispersion), which measures uniformity, should not be above 1.5 for residential properties. We’re at a 1.7. Per Department of Revenue Standards, we are out of compliance,” Duvall explained.
Duvall explained that the Department of Revenue uses previous year’s sales to get the current year’s digest numbers, but the Department of Audits uses current year’s sales.
“They used 2021 sales that we haven’t even caught up to yet. We haven’t even been made aware. It didn’t used to be this way, but about four or five years ago, the Department of Audit changed how they do their study. It’s beginning to be a problem. A lot of counties are having this problem,” Duvall said.
Duvall requested that the board repeal the Department of Audits report. The Commissioners agreed to the repeal.
“It would be different if we weren’t doing our job from year to year, slacking and not paying attention, but we work hard to make sure it’s right,” Duvall said.
Alex Case, Director of Emergency Services, asked the Board of Commissioners to upgrade the recording system that records the 911 lines that come into the call center, and all the radio traffic and channels that come through on the radio consoles. Case noted that the system has been upgraded three times since he has been director. The commissioners approved the upgrade, which will cost $29,456.45.
In addition, the board approved the appointment of George Williams to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission Board of Directors.
The board also adopted a resolution, which designates Castle Drive and Air Castle Drive as county roads. The roads were built and maintained previously as private roads.
Multiple proclamations for September were also approved, including National Library Card Sign-up Month, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Adult Education and Family Literacy Week as Sept. 18-24.
Commissioner Lowery reported that the EMS had 213 calls for the month of August. The Fire Departments had 287 calls, and the Police Departments had 819 calls.
Commissioner Hartline reported that recreation football and soccer is currently ongoing at the Sports Complex. A slow pitch softball tournament, hosted by Riverside Baptist Church, will be Sept. 24. Hartline also reported that there were 30 electrical inspections for the month of August, and 20 of those were for new constructions.
“I still feel like we’re way over 16,000 people in this county,” Hartline said, referring to the Census recently reporting that Dade County had dropped in population.
Commissioner Goff reported that the amount of SPLOST funds were down $15,000 in August, compared to July, but he noted that it was still a good month with $315,715.
Commissioner Melissa C. Bradford reported that there were 970 tons at the transfer station for the month of August. There were 341 road work orders for the month.
“There have been a lot of really bad car accidents on Lookout. Please drive slow, watch other people and stay in your lanes. Be careful,” Bradford said.
County Executive Ted Rumley reported that the railroad is now working with the county to alleviate the blocking trains issue.
“I mention this every meeting and it’s all been negative, but they are getting on board with us now. They are still parking the cars, but they are breaking them up now, so the crossings are now open,” Rumley said.
Rumley noted that there are still issues on the north end of the county though, with residents being stranded for hours at a time.
“We are doing everything we can on our government level here,” Rumley said.
Mindy Haworth, Manager of the Dade County Public Library, reported that new bookshelves have been built for the history room, paid for by the Dade County Historical Society.
A new program starting later this month at the library is Yoga for Homeschool Families, which will be on Sept. 28 at 1 p.m.
Another new library program is Discover Trails. There will be an information session meeting on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 5 p.m. at the library. There will be a guided one-mile hike on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 10 a.m. at the Ascalon Trailhead. A $5 parking fee is required.
“This is my personal pet project. I love the trails of Dade County; I think they are a hidden gem. This is a three-month series,” Haworth said.
Laura Beth Cunningham with the Dade County 4-H program reported that August was the largest month, attendance wise, for many of her programs. She had over 20 kids attend last month’s craft night, and usual the attendance is around 8-10 kids. The next 4-H craft night will be Sept. 23, and the kids will make Styrofoam bowl turtles. RSVP by Sept. 19 at noon. Call (706) 657-4116 to RSVP.
The next D.A.D.E Greater Gardener Series meeting, to be held on Sept. 29, will be about maintenance, pruning, and pest management in fruit orchards. The next Tri-State Beekeepers Association meeting will be Sept. 19, and the next Tri-State Cattlemen’s Association meeting will be Sept. 20.
John Rollins, Vice Chair for the Alliance for Dade, reported that Sandy White was hired as the Alliance’s President and CEO, and she will start on Oct. 24. In addition, Margo McDade was hired as the Alliance’s Director of Tourism, and she has started earlier this month.
Public Information Officer Carey Anderson presented the financial report. It was noted that Finance Officer Don Townsend was absent due to COVID-19. The general fund balance as of Aug. 31 is $182,294. Revenue collected for the month was $850,178, and $1,708,985 was budgeted for the month.
The next County Commission meeting will be Oct. 6.