Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 7, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 7, 2018

General George Washington created the Purple Heart on August 7, 1782. Click here for an interesting history of the award.

On August 7, 1790, a delegation of Creeks met with the United States Secretary of War and signed the Treaty of New York, ceding all land between the Ogeechee and Oconee Rivers to Georgia.

Theodore Roosevelt, who served as President from 1901 to 1909, was nominated for President by the Progressive Party, also called the Bull Moose Party, on August 7, 1912.

On August 7, 1942, Marine forces landed at Guadalcanal.

Voters ratified a new version of the State Constitution on August 7, 1945. Among the new features was the establishment of the State Board of Corrections to ensure humane conditions.

The board was directed to be more humane in its treatment of prisoners and abolished whippings, leg irons, and chains. Until 1945, prisoners in Georgia could expect to have heavy steel shackles put on by a blacksmith upon arrival. They were then taken out to work under severe conditions.

The caravan bearing 43 ounces of Dahlonega gold to be used in covering the Georgia State Capitol dome reached the Capitol and delivered it to Governor Marvin Griffin on August 7, 1958.

On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which would be used as the legal basis for U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced that state revenues grew 3.5 percent over the prior year, according to a press release:

Gov. Nathan Deal [] announced that Georgia’s net tax collections for July, the first month of FY 2019, totaled nearly $1.78 billion, for an increase of $59.4 million, or 3.5 percent, compared to last year when net tax collections totaled almost $1.72 billion. July’s gross tax revenue receipts totaled $2.41 billion, for an increase of $136 million, or 6 percent, over July 2017.

The changes within the following tax categories contributed to the overall net tax revenue increase in July:

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for July totaled $897.1 million, for an increase of $35.6 million, or 4.1 percent, compared to last year when Individual Income Tax collections totaled $861.5 million.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net increase:

  • Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were up $29.6 million, or 34.4 percent.
  • Individual Withholding payments were up $53.7 million, or 6 percent.
  • All other Individual Tax categories, including Estimated Tax payments, were up a combined $11.5 million.

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections increased by $66.2 million, or 6.9 percent, over last year. Net Sales and Use Tax increased by nearly $15.1 million, or 3 percent, compared to July 2017, when net sales tax totaled almost $508.8 million. The adjusted distribution of sales tax to local governments totaled $493.6 million, for an increase of $48.9 million, or 11 percent, over last year. Finally, sales tax refunds increased by roughly $2.2 million, or 56.2 percent, compared to July 2017.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections for July totaled roughly $31.9 million, for an increase of $12.5 million, or 64.7 percent, compared to last year when net Corporate Tax revenues totaled nearly $19.4 million.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the net increase:

  • Corporate Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were up $1.6 million, or 9.4 percent.
  • Corporate Income Tax Estimated Return payments were up $12.6 million, or 48.5 percent.
  • All other Corporate Tax payments were up roughly $1.5 million, or 14.7 percent.

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections during the month increased by $7.7 million, or 5.3 percent, compared to last year when Motor Fuel Tax collections totaled nearly $146 million.

Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees: Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees for the month decreased by $5.1 million, or -15.2 percent, compared to last year when Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees totaled $33.6 million. Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections totaled almost $72.6 million, for a decrease of $8.9 million, or -10.9 percent, over last year.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is encouraging fishermen to participate in a Red Snapper tracking program, according to the Brunswick News.

To assist in better data collection, DNR advised different ways anglers can help develop “current information on the age, size and growth of red snapper in the population.”

One way is to discard red snapper carcasses in freezer chests along the coast. To draw in participants, DNR is offering a $50 Academy Sports gift card that will be awarded at random to two people. Also, folks can document their red snapper fishing trips through the smartphone app MyFishCount, or go to MyFishCount.com, and fill out a survey.

Along with these methods, state Coastal Resources Division staff will be on hand at boat ramps to interview people on their catch. For people who are releasing red snapper back into the water, CRD partnered with Yamaha and FishSmart to provide free descending devices that rapidly reintroduce the fish back to the depth they were caught, in an attempt to improve survival.

“Anglers have an opportunity to be citizen scientists by providing red snapper data,” Carolyn Belcher, CRD chief of Marine Fisheries, said in a statement. “During the last mini-season, with the help of anglers, CRD biologists examined 122 carcasses ranging in age from 1-to-19 years, with approximately 95 percent younger than 14. Data collected during 2018 will be combined with that from other South Atlantic states for future population assessments.”

Toll lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties could be delayed after a wall collapsed along a new section, according to the AJC.

The recent collapse of a wall along an unfinished stretch of I-75 has prompted more extensive repairs and could delay the opening of 30 miles of toll lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties, documents exclusively obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show.

An engineer’s report shows design and installation problems likely led to the collapse of the wall along the lanes near Windy Hill Road in June. But the problem may not be limited to the section that collapsed, and workers must now fix other walls along the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes.

Floyd County Commissioners are considering measures to combat additction and mental illness among resident, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“The Stepping Up program is certainly something we are very interested in,” Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said. “We will be discussing passing a resolution at our next board meeting.”

The national Stepping Up initiative — developed under the banner of the U.S. Department of Justice and the American Psychiatric Foundation — offers a toolkit of strategies and other assistance in dealing with the pervasive effects of mental illness and addictive behaviors.

Bonnie Moore, president of NAMI Rome, introduced the idea to the board, and commissioners learned more about it during the mental health summit hosted by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia last week in Macon.

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities is hosting an opioid strategic plan summit on Aug. 21 in Forsyth to unveil a draft statewide plan of attack that’s been in the works for more than a year.

Buford City Council rolled back the property tax millage rate, but not enough to avoid higher revenues, according to the Gainesville Times.

Since 2013, the rate has steadily dropped from 13 mills, with the Buford Board of Commissioners set to vote on a tax rate of 12.75 mills at its 7 p.m. meeting Monday, Aug. 6, at Buford City Hall, 2300 Buford Highway.

But to keep the city revenue neutral, the rate would have to be 12.436 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 of assessed values.

That means some residents — basically those whose property values are rising — would pay more in taxes. Those with flat or declining values would pay the same or less in taxes.

Because the city mostly in Gwinnett but partially in South Hall isn’t proposing a “rollback rate,” it must by state law hold three public hearings. One hearing was held July 16 and the final two are set for 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at City Hall.

Lawrenceville City Council adopted a 10-month, $152 million dollar budget that will sync with the state fiscal year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The budget was approved based on a recommendation from the city’s staff, which put the budget together with input from Lawrenceville’s Financial Citizen’s Review Committee. The budget is designed to carry the city financially from September through next June, as the city moves to a July to June financial calendar.

“We are grateful to the staff, the Financial Citizen’s Review Committee and the public for their input during this process,” Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson said in a statement. “The decision to switch to a new fiscal year will support better alignment and financial planning with our partners at the County and State levels.

Clarkesville City Council members voted to hire an outside firm to run some municipal operations, according to AccessWDUN.

“They will be the operations, maintenance and management of public works, sanitation, water treatment plant, water distribution, the wastewater treatment plant, and the wastewater collection system,” City Manager Barbara Kesler told AccessWDUN. “So basically, everything public works was doing, which includes streets, sanitation, and all of our enterprise funds activities with the water and wastewater treatment.”

The Rome Redevelopment Agency is supporting a proposed Tax Allocation District, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The Rome Redevelopment Agency voted to recommend a Mount Berry Mall Tax Allocation District financial package to both city and county commissioners. The Hull Property Group is asking for $1.15 million in financial assistance over 15 years.

If the city and county approve, the mall owners would get a portion of the additional taxes that are generated by improvements to the mall.

“We are not losing any taxes, we are just foregoing any increases for a period of time,” explained Rome City Manager Sammy Rich.

As it is, the mall has been steadily losing tax value over the years and by locking in at the current $4.88 million valuation, the city and county would at least be guaranteed of a steady level of taxes from the mall for the next 15 years.

Chatham Area Transit will seek state funding assistance, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham Area Transit officials say the time is right to advocate for additional resources for transit outside of metro Atlanta.

CAT plans to put forward proposals in the 2019 legislative session to amend newly adopted state law so that areas outside of Atlanta have a better shot of keeping their systems “healthy, viable and able to interconnect,” said Mike Vaquer, a lobbyist working on behalf of CAT on the state and local levels.

“What we are in is a multi-year cycle of focus on transit statewide,” Vaquer said during a telephone interview with CAT officials this week. This funding effort, he said, kicked off in 2016 with a $100 million grant program that yielded some $12 million for CAT to purchase new vehicles.

In 2017, the Georgia General Assembly created a study committee to examine transit funding, and this year, using some of the recommendations from that committee, passed Georgia House Bill 930 — legislation that set aside funding for expansion of public transit in the Atlanta area, and provided for counties in the state to pair up to call for a vote on a new sales tax for transit expenses.

CAT expects to propose changes to House Bill 930 in the coming year, Vaquer said, including one that would allow individual counties to hold a referendum on the Transit SPLOST, and others that could enhance the state’s role in funding Georgia transit.

Lobbyist Mike Vaquer also brought forward a proposal to revisit Statesboro’s alcohol ordinance, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Since January, first the appointed Alcohol Advisory Board and later the elected council have looked at proposals to allow young adults ages 18-20 into bars. Some of the proposals would also eliminate Statesboro’s process of having the police determine whether a place is a restaurant or a bar and instead adopt the state’s minimum definition of a bar as a place that gets 75 percent or more of its revenue from serving alcoholic beverages.

When a draft of [Council member Phil] Boyum’s proposal was given a first reading during a special July 25 council meeting, Mike Vaquer of The Vaquer Firm LLC in Savannah spoke, saying he represented the Georgia Restaurant Association. Franklin Dismuke, owner of Eagle Creek Brewing Company, the brewpub in downtown Statesboro, was with Vaquer and had invited him.

“We … would like to ask that you hold on adopting this and give the restaurant community some time to work with your staff and the legal department to fine-tune some of this language,” Vaquer said. “We certainly understand that your goal is to try to control access for 18- to 21-year-olds in establishments that sell adult beverages. That is a commendable goal.”

Boyum asked Vaquer to help get a revised proposal ready for a second reading by the Aug. 7 meeting. Statesboro officials have been trying to put the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance amendments behind them before Georgia Southern University starts fall semester, Boyum said.

Dougherty County Commissioners voted to finalize a 3-mill property tax rate hike, according to the Albany Herald.

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