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County talks budget, marijuana at meeting

In the second of three public hearings the Liberty County Board of Commissioners discussed the potential to increase property taxes. The meeting was held Oct. 5 during their 6 p.m. board of Commissioners’ meeting and livestreamed on the County’s Facebook Page.

County Chief Financial Officer Kim McGlothlin said the County has two millage rates; one for the residents of Hinesville and the other for the unincorporated areas of the County. 

The County has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will require an increase in property taxes by the following amounts:

 3.23 percent over the rollback rate in the unincorporated areas of the County. 

2.81 percent over the rollback rate in the incorporated area of Hinesville.

4.99 percent over the rollback rate in the incorporated areas of Allenhurst, Flemington, Gumbranch, Midway, Riceboro, and Walthourville.

The board plans to hold another public hearing at 5 p.m. Oct. 21, at the Liberty County Board of Commissioners Annex Board Room located at 112 N Main Street, Hinesville.

A copy of the budget presentation can be downloaded online at:

City of Hinesville Councilman Keith Jenkins and Engineer Paul Simonton presented the site plans for the construction of Southside Park off Airport Road. The land was donated by Paul Krebs and includes roughly 7 acres of land where existing tennis courts are located. Jenkins said the park will cost 1.4 million to construct. He said the City of Hinesville has $700,000 committed to the project. Jenkins said he came before the Board of Commissioners to see if the County would be willing to assist the City in paying for the project. He said the park will be utilized by County and City residents and that the City and County have co-funded other projects, like Irene Thomas Park in Hinesville.

Commissioner Marion Stevens said he would oppose funding the project if it was going to delay or remove funds from the Joseph Miller Park improvements. County Administrator Joey Brown said the funding would come from other sources and districts and not interfere with Miller Park.

With County Attorney Kelly Davis on the phone, the Board briefly discussed the possible implementation of a County Misdemeanor Marijuana Ordinance. The ordinance would change the way someone caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would be charged. If passed, anyone caught with an ounce or less would be cited and pay a fee. They would no longer face criminal charges. Davis explained it would be handled the same way traffic tickets are handled. Commissioner Justin Frasier said has more to do with decriminalizing marijuana, not legalizing it.

“There is a difference,” Frasier said.

“I know from my point of view and from my perception of it, criminal justice reform has always been very close to me. From the federal level to the state level and I think this is one of the few things that we have an opportunity to be a part of and help change how criminal justice is looked at. Everyone has made a mistake in their life before and I would just hate for someone to have their whole life altered because of a mistake.”

Frasier asked the Commissioners to keep an open mind. Gary Gilliard said only 12 cities and Counties have implemented a marijuana ordinance in the state based on his brief research. He said even people who purchased less than an ounce are still breaking the law. The matter was tabled for further discussion at a later meeting.

Davis also spoke about creating an Economic Development Authority (ECA). The Authority would focus on the recruitment and development of businesses in the unincorporated areas of the County, Davis explained. The proposal was brought before the Board by Commissioner Frasier.

The Board approved to hire Attorney Jimmy McDonald for the process of re-drawing the County Districts based on the 2020 Census numbers. The law firm will charge the County a flat fee of $10,000 for the process. The Board approved the preliminary and final plats for the Colonies of Habersham phase III. They approved a conditional use petition for a ground mounted solar array unit at a home in the 100 block of Santiago Lane. They also approved for the County to move forward with the grant application for the Georgia State Fiscal recovery funds.

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