The Liberty County Board of Commissioners gave formal approval to a $30 million budget for fiscal year 2019 during their mid-month meeting Thursday. The updated tax digest that the commissioners hope to see in August will control whether tax millage will need to be raised or the budget changed.
The new budget is $623,000 more than last year's, an increase of 2.1 percent. The commissioners received funding requests totaling $33.8 million from county departments but trimmed $3.5 million from this, mostly from personnel and capital costs.
“When should we hear from downstairs?” asked Commission Chairman Donald Lovette, referring to the tax assessor’s office which annually produces a digest showing all the property in Liberty County. Officials said they hope to see the tax digest by August so they can change the budget if necessary as well as determine the millage rate.
The budget was rolled out in an advertised public hearing June 5. No citizens addressed the commission with questions nor made any comments at that hearing.
Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Executive Director Jeff Ricketson reported on two solar farms under way and said governments need rules to rely on regarding solar farms as these projects become more common.
Ricketson said he had a model ordinance developed by the Emory University School of Law and that jurisdictions such as the county could adapt it according to local needs.
Decommissioning of solar farms after their 25 to 30-year lifespan is an important issue, according to county officials. Agreements for solar farms include decommissioning provisions, but Commissioner Pat Bowen asked, “What’s the guarantee on this? Does it have any teeth?”
County Administrator Joey Brown said many counties were requiring bonds from solar farm operators to guarantee decommissioning when the facility was no longer used.
Lovette said he would like to have information from organizations like the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) before enacting an ordinance. Solar farms are under consideration in Riceboro and Walthourville.
A project status report from T.R. Long Engineering showed that the striping of county roads has been partly delayed by rainy weather. A completion date for the striping and related signage is July 24 with an estimated cost of $115,000.
A $100,000 project for the sidewalk along Bacon Road has been delayed because the contractor, Jerry Rushing Construction, is tied up on a project in Walthourville, according to the engineer. A completion date for the sidewalk contract was Feb. 11. Long is asking the remaining work to be done as soon as possible.
At the request of developer Dryden Enterprises, the commissioners accepted for maintenance roads and easements in Phases 7, 8 and 9 of The Villages at Limerick.
Parker can be contacted by email at email@example.com.