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County sets Sept. 28 meeting with cities for fire protect fee
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Even with Hurricane Irma looming, the Liberty County Commission Sept. 5 worked through a busy, if routine, agenda. A meeting of county officials and local mayors on a developing fire and emergency service plan was set for Sept. 28.

This year’s county tax notices and bills will show a fee to pay for emergency services, but the commission has not yet agreed on how to set and collect the fee.

The commissioners held two rounds of town hall meetings on the plan. Initial planning was for a flat fee to go on tax bills to pay for the service. According to one example cited earlier a home with a $250,000 fair market value would pay $320 a year for fire and rescue service.

However, questions have arisen over what fee, if any, should be charged on vacant land, and other methods of assessment on vacant and improved land have been discussed. The county plan said 88 churches and charities exist, and considers charging them an annual fee of $300.

In other business, after a presentation by engineer Matthew Barrow of Simonton and Associates the commissioners gave the go-ahead to seek a Community Development Block Grant to fund expansion of the county’s water system in East Liberty. Barrow told the commissioners the maximum amount of the 2018 grants has been raised to $750,000 and the grant awards will be increasingly competitive. Deadline to apply is April.

County technology chief Clint Stanley reported that as part of the E911 system improvement project all the dispatchers had been moved temporarily to allow for installation of new equipment in the main dispatch room. Stanley said completion of the E911 computer assisted dispatch system would be in about 18 months.

The commissioners approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Live Oak Public Library which serves Liberty, Chatham and Effingham counties. County Administrator Joey Brown said the agreement documents the relationship between the library and counties.

“Things we have never had in writing before,” Brown said, adding an advisory committee was being set up and the regional library would provide regular financial reporting.

A counterpart local agreement with Liberty County, Hinesville, Midway and Riceboro and the library was also presented Tuesday but the commissioners decided to delay action on that while they wait for word from the board of education. The commission had asked the school board to resume providing a share of the library costs as it has in the past.

Brown said he had contacted school system administration about the funding but had received no reply. He told the commission he would ask again.

Alan Seifert and Jeff Rickettson of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission presented a development ordinance project to take place over the next 18 months and include the county commission and all of Liberty County’s municipalities.

The project is aimed at updating and improving policies and legislation affecting future land use and development in the county and its seven municipalities. According to the commission’s synopsis of the meeting, “Seifert briefed the board on the mythology of updating the ordinances.”

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