Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 30, 2019

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May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 30, 2019

On May 30, 1922, Chief Justice of the United States William H. Taft dedicated the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Inside the memorial is a seated statue of Lincoln by Daniel Chester French carved from 175 tons of Georgia white marble.

French also created the statue of Jame Oglethorpe that stands in Chippewa Square in Savannah and a seated statue of Samuel Spencer considered to be a prototype of the Lincoln carving. Samuel Spencer was the first President of Southern Railway and was originally located at the rail station in downtown Atlanta before moving to the Southern Railway passenger station in Buckhead in the 1970s and is currently at 1200 Peachtree Street in front of Norfolk Southern.

On this day in 1992, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion by Georgia-based The Black Crowes reached number one on the Billboard US Album chart.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Disney may cease filming in Georgia if the heartbeat bill goes into effect, according to the New York Times.

Disney’s chief executive, Bob Iger, said on Wednesday it would be “very difficult” for the company to continue filming in Georgia if the state’s highly restrictive abortion law is carried out.

Iger’s comments, made during in an interview with Reuters, were the strongest sign yet that Hollywood could pull back from Georgia, which has lured television and film producers with generous tax breaks, but has also at times repelled the industry with its politics.

“I rather doubt we will” continue filming in the state, Iger said. “I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now we are watching it very carefully.

“I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there” if the law is enforced, he said.

Columbus City Council will consider raising the property tax millage rate by a percentage point, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Columbus Consolidated Government has issued a notice saying next year’s tentative budget requires a higher millage rate and three public hearings are required by Georgia law before it’s raised.

The council is proposing to leave the millage rate at 17.18 mils for urban service districts 1, 5, 6 and 7, according to the notice.

That means a property in one of those districts with an assessed value of $100,000 would receive a tax bill from the city of $1,718.

Because there was no increase in the total digest for districts 2 and 4, and the millage rates of 11.20 mils for district 2 and 10.30 mils for district 4 will remain the same and there will be no tax increase advertised.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley said Wednesday that despite the language in the advertisement, people whose property taxes are frozen on their homes and who have not made any additions will not see an increase.

The one percent increase has more to do with the growth in the total digest, or list, of taxable properties in Columbus, she said.

“If we did everything exactly the same during the course of the year, but we added 600 new homes and two new 50,000-square-foot buildings, all else was the same, those 600 new homes and those new buildings would increase the digest because you’ve added to the inventory,” he said. “Adding to the inventory gives the appearance that we had an increase in property taxes.”

Savannah City Council is considering a rezoning for the Savannah Harbor project on Hutchinson Island, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The change will create a new Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning district, the Savannah Harbor Parcel 5 PUD.

The property where the zoning change would apply is parcel 5, a 27.41-acre section of the Savannah Harbor master planned area on Hutchinson Island.

The area is already zoned for residential housing, lodging and retail uses. The zoning change would allow outdoor events, food trucks and watercraft activities on parcel 5.

Phase one of the project includes a marina, with an adjacent public plaza and greenspace. The marina would be located to the east of The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa.

Also included in phase one are plans for residential housing in three blocks of the parcel.

The Augusta Commission Personnel Committee approved a new severance policy, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Lee County Commission approved an agreement to implement text-to-911 service, according to the Albany Herald.

Gainesville City Board of Education is considering offering an early contract extension to superintendent Jeremy Williams, according to the Gainesville Times.

A Chatham County grand jury indicted former Chatham County Probate Court Clerk Kim Birge on 39 counts related to alleged theft in office, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The indictment returned by the Chatham County grand jury identified 18 individual who were alleged victims between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2011, and it is the first time Birge has been charged in a state court proceeding.

Birge, 64, is currently serving a six-year federal sentence imposed in 2015 for her guilty plea to stealing $223,000 from the Probate Court.

The new charges, obtained on evidence presented by Chatham County Assistant District Attorney Scott Robichaux, charged Birge with racketeering activity by obtaining interest in and control of real estate and personal property by improperly managing Probate Court funds and accounts by forging or altering documents related to disbursements and expenditures for her personal use.w

Glynn County Commissioners meet today to discuss budgeting, according to The Brunswick News.

“What we plan on doing is ask whatever questions you have, and then in a little over a week, we’re going to have another budget session,” commission chairman Mike Browning said at the work session last week. “Be prepared to come in here and everything you want to deal with, be ready to deal with it.”

Due to a number of changes between this year’s budget and the recommended budget for the next fiscal year, it’s difficult to compare them directly, County Manager Alan Ours told the Glynn County Commission at the work session. However, the total budget for the last fiscal year added up to around $142 million while the 2019-2020 budget comes out to around $132 million.

The $10 million difference can largely be attributed to fewer purchases and an expected drop in revenue from Brunswick and Jekyll Island property taxes, according to Tamara Munson, the county’s interim chief financial officer.

The structure of the proposed 2019-2020 budget is far enough removed from previous budgets to make direct comparisons difficult, Ours said. For one, the Glynn County Police Department’s budget is moving out of the general fund, where it has historically been categorized, and into its own police fund within the new special revenue fund.

Valdosta Board of Education members are considering changing their compensation from $50 per meeting to $300 per month, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The proposal was brought up by member Warren Lee, leader of the benefits committee, at the regular meeting Tuesday.

“Board members now have more responsibility put on them than ever before,” Lee said. “I would like to see us discuss it. I’ve been kicking this can down the road for a long time.”

Currently, the nine board members are paid a per diem allowance of $50 each every time they attend a meeting or school board function, which is funded through local school tax funds.

Now, they’re asking for $300 a month, which would come from the same source.

The University of Georgia will open beer sales in the football stadium to some donors, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

In Rome, the Coosa River Basin Initiative will monitor bacteria levels in local streams for public safety, according to the Rome News Tribune.

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