Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 17, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 17, 2022

On June 17, 1759, Sir Francis Drake claimed California for England.

On June 17, 1775, British forces under General William Howe engaged American colonists at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

On June 17, some 2,200 British forces under the command of Major General William Howe (1729-1814) and Brigadier General Robert Pigot (1720-96) landed on the Charlestown Peninsula then marched to Breed’s Hill. As the British advanced in columns against the Americans, Prescott, in an effort to conserve the Americans’ limited supply of ammunition, reportedly told his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” When the Redcoats were within several dozen yards, the Americans let loose with a lethal barrage of musket fire, throwing the British into retreat.

After re-forming their lines, the British attacked again, with much the same result. Prescott’s men were now low on ammunition, though, and when the Redcoats went up the hill for a third time, they reached the redoubts and engaged the Americans in hand-to-hand combat. The outnumbered Americans were forced to retreat. However, by the end of the engagement, the Patriots’ gunfire had cut down some 1,000 enemy troops, with more than 200 killed and more than 800 wounded. More than 100 Americans perished, while more than 300 others were wounded.

A distant ancestor of mine, John Logue, fought with the Americans at Bunker Hill, though he was not yet an enlisted soldier.

British forces under General Sir Henry Clinton left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 18, 1778 after occupying the former capital for nine months.

On June 18, 1807, commissioners from Georgia and North Carolina agreed to recognize the 35th parallel as the boundary between the two states. North Carolina conducted a survey that placed the boundary further South than the 35th parallel, though Georgia never accepted the survey and continues to argue that the 35th is the proper boundary against both North Carolina and Tennessee.

The War of 1812 began on June 18, 1812, as President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain passed by the House and Senate.

The Georgia Whig Party held its first convention on June 19, 1843 in Milledgeville and elected ten delegates to the 1844 National Convention.

The first Republican National Convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ended on June 19, 1856.

The Republicans, who called for the abolition of slavery in all U.S. territories, rapidly gained supporters in the North, and in 1856 their first presidential candidate, John Fremont, won 11 of the 16 Northern states. By 1860, the majority of Southern states were publicly threatening secession if a Republican won the presidency.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the official party of the victorious North. After the war, the Republican-dominated Congress forced a radical Reconstruction policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, abolishing slavery and granting voting rights to African American men in the South. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency, with a few intermissions, until the ascendance of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

On June 19, 1864, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreated from Pine Mountain and Lost Mountain toward Marietta.

President Andrew Johnson appointed John Johnson (no relation) provisional Governor of Georgia after the Civil War on June 17, 1865; John Johnson had opposed secession.

On June 18, 1873, Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for illegally voting in Rochester, New York. At the conclusion of her trial, the judge read a statement that, “The Fourteenth Amendment gives no right to a woman to vote, and the voting by Miss Anthony was in violation of the law,” and directed the jury to convict her. Anthony responded,

“Yes, your honor, I have many things to say; for in your ordered verdict of guilty, you have trampled underfoot every vital principle of our government,” Anthony said. “My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor’s verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government.”

The Southern Railway Company was organized on June 18, 1894 and through predecessor railroads traces its heritage to the nation’s first regularly-scheduled railroad service, The Best Friend of Charleston. Samuel Spencer, of Columbus, Georgia, was the first President of the Southern. In the 1980s, the Southern merged with Norfolk & Western Railway to form Norfolk Southern.

France announced its intention to surrender to Germany on June 17, 1940.

Five men were arrested for burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate office and apartment complex in Washington, DC on June 17, 1972.

The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) connected cash found on the burglars to a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, the official organization of Nixon’s campaign.

In July 1973, as evidence mounted against the president’s staff, including testimony provided by former staff members in an investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee, it was revealed that President Nixon had a tape-recording system in his offices and he had recorded many conversations.

After a protracted series of bitter court battles, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the president had to hand over the tapes to government investigators; he ultimately complied.

Recordings from these tapes implicated the president, revealing he had attempted to cover up the questionable goings-on that had taken place after the break-in.

Facing near-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, then issued a pardon to him on September 8, 1974.

Newton Leroy Gingrich was born on June 17, 1943 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Gingrich graduated from college at Emory University, where he founded the Emory College Republicans. Gingrich’s congressional papers are collected in the the Georgia’s Political Heritage Program at West Georgia College, where he taught before being elected to Congress. Also at West Georgia are the papers of former Congressmen Bob Barr, Mac Collins, and Pat Swindall, along with a near-perfect replica of Georgia Speaker Tom Murphy’s office.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the last day of early voting for the June 21 Primary Runoff Elections. From the Rome News Tribune:

Through Tuesday, 55 people voted at the Floyd County Elections Office at 18 E. 12th St. Hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. We’re awaiting Wednesday and Thursday updates.

Also through Tuesday, the county had received 175 absentee ballot requests with 21 already returned. The deadline to return them to the elections office is by 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 21.

On election day, all precincts will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Here’s the coming housing and economic apocalypse in Georgia: rising interest rates by the Federal Reserve will strain some homeowners, especially those with adjustable rate mortgages. Then, dramatically rising property taxes will increase the financial discomfort for homeowners. From the Savannah Morning News:

The prices of gas, groceries and housing have gone sky high.

For property owners, they’re also feeling the cost of inflation as their property tax assessments arrive in the mail.

Residential values in Chatham County are 21 percent higher than last year, according to 2022 assessment data provided by the Chatham County Board of Assessors.

Several homeowners WTOC Investigates heard from say they are experiencing sticker shock with this year’s assessment notice and concerned about how it will impact their property tax bill.

The increased assessments are based on the 2021 home sales prices in the greater Savannah area. They rapidly climbed last year as many buyers faced bid wars to purchase a home.

“In the 10 years that I’ve been here, this is the biggest number that we’ve seen absolutely,” [Chief Appraiser Roderick] Conley said.

Those increases not only affect buyers, but anyone who owns property in Chatham County, including those who have a homestead exemption.

Even if home prices begin to drop this year, those decreases will not affect 2022 property assessment values. The assessments for this year are based on home sales in 2021.

From 13WMAZ:

J.J. Arias, an economics professor at Georgia College, believes that the trend [of rapidly rising home prices and fast sales] could slow down. He says over the next six months to a year, mortgage rates will increase because of the interest rate hike.

And Arias believes as mortgage rates increase the demand for housing will decrease.

“Sellers are still in control. I don’t think they ought to jack their prices up. If they’re selling they should sell it at what their agent tells them to sell it, and get it sold right away,” Jones said.

Arias says sellers will need to have lower asking prices. So, they’ll want to buy and sell sooner rather than later.

From the Associated Press via 13WMAZ:

Record-low mortgages are long gone. Credit card rates will likely rise. So will the cost of an auto loan. Savers may finally see a noticeable return.

The unusually large three-quarter point hike in its benchmark short-term rate that the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday won’t, by itself, have a huge effect on most Americans’ finances. But combined with earlier rate hikes and additional large increases to come, economists and investors foresee the fastest pace of rate increases since 1989.

Rates on home loans have soared in the past few months, mostly in anticipation of the Fed’s moves, and will probably keep rising.

In part, the jump in mortgage rates reflects expectations that the Fed will keep raising its key rate. But its forthcoming hikes aren’t likely fully priced in yet. If the Fed jacks up its key rate even higher, as expected, the 10-year Treasury yield will go much higher, too, and mortgages will become more expensive.

Economists say that higher mortgage rates will discourage some would-be purchasers. And average home prices, which have been soaring at about a 20% annual rate, could at least rise at a slower pace.

Sales of existing homes have fallen for six straight months. New home sales have also slumped. Those trends are modestly boosting the supply of available properties.

Fed rate hikes can make auto loans more expensive. But other factors also affect these rates, including competition among car makers that can sometimes lower borrowing costs.

For users of credit cards, home equity lines of credit and other variable-interest debt, rates would rise by roughly the same amount as the Fed hike, usually within one or two billing cycles. That’s because those rates are based in part on banks’ prime rate, which moves in tandem with the Fed.

The Fed’s rate increases have already sent credit card borrowing rates above 20% for the first time in at least four years, according to LendingTree, which has tracked the data since 2018.

Georgia hit an all-time low unemployment rate, according to AccessWDUN.

Georgia’s unemployment rate hit a new record low of 3% in May as more people entered the labor force and more workers found jobs.

The jobless rate ticked down from 3.1%, the previous all-time low, which was set in March and equaled in April. A year ago, 4.1% of Georgia workers were unemployed.

Georgia’s jobless rate has been falling or stable — never rising — in every month since hitting an all-time high of 12.3% at the start of the pandemic in April 2020.

Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, a Republican not seeking reelection, said his agency is trying to get more people to enter the labor market to relieve a scarcity of workers.

“We have seen wages increase at an accelerated rate as employers compete for talent in the workplace,” Butler said in a statement.

The nationwide unemployment rate stayed level at 3.6% in May for the third month in a row, down from 5.8% a year ago.

On Monday, we will be closed to observe the state holiday memorializing Juneteenth. From Wikipedia:

Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It is also often observed for celebrating African-American culture. Originating in Galveston, Texas, it has been celebrated annually on June 19 in various parts of the United States since 1865. The day was recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.

Juneteenth’s commemoration is on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas, which was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, had freed the enslaved people in Texas and all the other Southern secessionist states of the Confederacy except for parts of states not in rebellion. Enforcement of the Proclamation generally relied upon the advance of Union troops. Texas, as the most remote state of the former Confederacy, had seen an expansion of slavery and had a low presence of Union troops as the American Civil War ended; thus, enforcement there had been slow and inconsistent prior to Granger’s announcement. Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared an end to slavery in the Confederate States, it did not end slavery in states that remained in the Union. For a short while after the fall of the Confederacy, slavery remained legal in two of the Union border states – Delaware and Kentucky.

Governor Brian Kemp earlier this year signed House Bill 1335, which recognizes the Juneteenth federal holiday as a state holiday. From an AJC article dated April 6, 2022:

The Republican approved House Bill 1335, which expands the number of paid state holidays observed by Georgia employees from 12 to 13. It updates the law to stay in line with the federal government, which last year designated Juneteenth as a holiday.

The legislation makes official the calendar that Kemp included in a memo to state employees in December outlining the 2022 paid holidays. Because the holiday will fall on a Sunday this year, Georgia will observe Juneteenth on June 20.

Though Kemp signed a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday, it wasn’t a paid day off for state employees in 2021. That’s because state law limits state office closures to a dozen public and legal holidays.

Georgia already had 12 in place in 2021. Ten of them are set-in-stone holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Day. Two others are flexible. Both of those honored events glorifying the Confederacy: Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday.

Kemp’s options for 2022 were to either amend the law and add Juneteenth as an official 13th state holiday or drop another holiday, such as Columbus Day. He went the expansion route.

Governor Kemp yesterday announced the State of Georgia and the Development Authority of Peach County collaborated on the purchase of an 1100 acre megasite for economic development, according to a press release:

“Even after announcing the two largest projects in the State’s history back-to-back, we remain focused on attracting key industries and investment by providing the project sites companies need,” said Governor Kemp. “It is very encouraging to see a new, fully prepared megasite that will create more high-quality jobs for hardworking Georgians in rural parts of the state. Georgia’s superior infrastructure – including our robust highway system, rail lines, record-setting port, and top-ranked airport – continues to make doing business in the Peach State a competitive choice for companies around the world. I am thankful to Peach County for their partnership on this investment.”

The Middle Georgia Megasite is strategically located adjacent to GA Hwy 96 with immediate access via Interstate 75 to multiple major metro areas across the American South and Midwest. The site is less than three hours by truck from the Port of Savannah, the single-largest and fastest-growing container terminal in the U.S. with two Class I rail facilities on-site. Both the Port of Savannah and Port of Brunswick can easily be reached in less than 5 hours by rail. Rail service to the site is provided by Norfolk Southern Class I rail on its north side and additional rail line on its west side, creating multiple access and design possibilities for loading cars.

Additionally, the site is a 90-minute drive from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is the busiest and most efficient airport in the world. Two regional airports are within 25 minutes of the Middle Georgia Megasite. Industrial utilities are adjacent to the site, and extensive due diligence reports have been completed to reduce barriers to speedy operations. To learn more about the site, visit www.peachcountydevelopment.com.

“We’ve been preparing for an opportunity like this for a long time,” said Martin Moseley, Chairman of the Peach County Board of Commissioners. “The Middle Georgia Megasite will put the entire Middle Georgia region on the map and position us for significant investment and new jobs. An announcement like this is transformative for a rural community, and we are so excited to be a part of something of this significance.”

“The Middle Georgia Megasite is an excellent example of investing in the future and long-term health of a community,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “This joint effort will create opportunities for the entire region, and the projects attracted to megasites create a ripple effect of growth that crosses county lines. Right now, we’re seeing that speed to market is a driving factor for companies, and preparing sites of this scale to meet companies’ timelines keeps Georgia competitive. Thank you to Peach County and all of our partners who have worked to make this project happen.”

About the Middle Georgia Megasite
The Middle Georgia Megasite purchase will be made in partnership with the State of Georgia and the Development Authority of Peach County using proceeds from the sale of the Chatham County Economic Development Site, which was purchased by Amazon in 2021 for a new major distribution facility. The site includes four parcels of land, of which approximately 1,100 acres are developable.

Governor Brian Kemp has endorsed Republican Mike Collins in the Runoff election for the Tenth Congressional District over Vernon Jones, according to The Hill.

“As a conservative small businessman, Mike knows firsthand how the disastrous policies of the Biden administration are hurting hardworking Georgians and communities all across our state,” Kemp said in the endorsement announcement. “Mike is strongly pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, and will fight hard to put Georgians first in Congress.”

Collins earned 25.6 percent of the vote in the initial primary, leading Jones by 4.1 percentage points, or roughly 4,600 votes.

Despite not earning Trump’s endorsement, Collins, the son of the late congressman Mac Collins (R-Ga.), has framed himself as a pro-Trump outsider. He has also highlighted his ownership of a trucking company.

From FoxNews:

“I’m proud to endorse Mike Collins,” Kemp said on Thursday in a statement as he backed Collins, a trucking company owner, as he faces off next Tuesday against Vernon Jones.

And the governor noted that “I will be casting my ballot for Mike Collins in the June 21st GOP runoff, and I ask fellow Republicans across the district to join me in sending a trusted conservative to Washington!”

Jones, responding to the news, said that “throughout my political career, I have never been the Establishment’s favorite. That’s something to be proud of — not ashamed of — and is exactly why President Trump endorsed me. I’m not running for Congress to join the Establishment. I’m running for Congress to destroy it.”

Collins edged Jones 26%-22% in a multi-candidate field in Georgia’s May 24th primary, but since neither came close to grabbing a majority of the vote, they headed to a June 21 runoff election. Collins has already picked up the support of some other Republican candidates in the race who failed to advance.

Democrat Stacey Abrams said she will retain the tax cuts enacted by Governor Kemp if she is elected, according to FoxNews.

The Kemp campaign and the Republican Governors Association hammered Abrams on Wednesday, which marked 50 days since Kemp signed what was touted by his office as “the largest income tax cut in state history.” They accused Abrams of being “silent” on the matter as Democrats are widely attacked by Republicans as wanting to raise taxes.

The Abrams campaign told Fox News, “Stacey has made clear she will not raise any taxes, she has clearly laid out how she will pay for her plans, and none of her plans to date or in the future will raise taxes.”

When asked specifically if Abrams will commit to maintaining the tax cuts that were passed, a spokesperson replied, “Yes.”

“Before saying another word on taxes, Kemp should follow Stacey Abrams’ lead by supporting an extension of the gas tax suspension until the end of 2022,” the Abrams campaign told Fox News. “Instead, he has indicated he will restore gas taxes to full levels next month, raising gas taxes and gas prices.”

When asked whether Kemp intends to extend the gas tax suspension, the Kemp campaign told Fox News the governor will “continue to evaluate a further suspension of the gas tax” and will “make the decision soon in consultation with legislative leadership,” noting that it amounts to “$170 million” saved per month.

Macon is on-pace to break its own homicide record for the third consecutive year, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Macon set modern-day records for homicides in both 2020 and 2021, and is on pace to break that violent record again.

A year ago, Mayor Lester Miller announced the county would begin working on a violence prevention, and a year of surveys and planning culminated Tuesday afternoon with Macon-Bibb County announcing more than $800,000 in grants to 25 nonprofit and faith-based organizations through the Community Foundation of Central Georgia.

“We can’t police ourselves out of this situation,” Miller said during the press conference while speaking about violence in the community. “We have to make an investment in our young people right now.”

Athens might beg to differ on whether it’s possible to police away violence. The Athens Police say cracking down on gangs has led to reduced violence, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

A crackdown on gang members in Athens that produced 47 arrests over a four-month period resulted in a marked decrease in violent crime in the city, Athens-Clarke Police Sgt. Ricky Howard said Wednesday night.

There was a 27-percent decrease in aggravated assaults in the five months after the initiative began, compared to the previous five months, according to Howard, supervisor of the department’s gang unit.

Twenty-two of the 47 arrested from Dec. 9 until April 1 were released on bond and “have already re-offended,” Howard said.

A former Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office employee filed a racial discrimination lawsuit, according to AccessWDUN.

A racial discrimination lawsuit has been filed against the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office. A former employee filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Complaint last month. The subsequent lawsuit names the Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Keybo Taylor and his chief deputy.

The lawsuit says that several white employees, especially those in upper management, were replaced by African-American employees. Buice is white and Sheriff Taylor is black. Buice says he was forced to resign or face termination.

The Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Thursday acknowledging the lawsuit but saying they wouldn’t comment on it. They did however say the department was committed to equality. “Race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation is not a factor in determining the employment, termination, or promotional advancement of employees within our agency.”

The lawsuit is arguing the Sheriff’s Office, Taylor and Chief Deputy Cleo Atwater violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment of the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

The Chatham County Board of Registrars challenged 27 registered Tybee Island voters, alleging each is not a full time resident of the Island, according to the Savannah Morning News.

During Wednesday’s special-called meeting, Tybee Island’s clerk, Jan Leviner, and resident Kenneth Williams collectively presented a total of 35 registered voters to the board to be challenged. Five of those voters will be re-evaluated at a future meeting and three had corresponded with the board and resolved their cases.

The remaining 27 have been moved to “challenge status.” That doesn’t mean those people will be deleted from the voter list, but if they were to vote at their Tybee address again, they would have to prove their residency, according to Director of Voter Registration Sabrina German.

“Cleaning” the voter roll – removing ineligible voters – is a biennial process at the state level. Local jurisdictions, however, have more discretion. The more clear-cut reasons for being removed: dying, serving out a felony sentence, or not having had contact with election officials for roughly nine years. Harder to prove, though, is if a voter’s registered address is their primary residence, which often falls to local elections boards.

During Wednesday’s meeting, successful challenges generally consisted of a combination of different factors: a homestead exemption outside of Tybee Island, utility bills indicating zero usage, property records indicating a sale to a new owner and a change of address in the National Change of Address (NCOA) database. In some cases, Tybee residents who personally knew the elector were also able to corroborate that the person had moved.

The City of Lula is expected to hold Special Elections to fill two City Council vacancies in November, according to the Gainesville Times.

Lula City Council is down to just three members after two resigned within two weeks of each other. The city will likely hold a special election for the vacant seats on Nov. 8.

Chatham County Commissioners will consider a property tax millage rate rollback, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Thursday during a public hearing on the millage rates, Chatham County Board Chairman Chester Ellis recommended that the commission consider millage rate rollbacks for the general fund, special service district (SSD) and Chatham Area Transit Authority.

“I was trying to get blood out of a turnip, because I kept asking them, if we lower the rate this much, ‘how much would that be? If we lowered the rate this much, how much would it be?’ And I ran into a slippery, slippery slope, but I did find that there is solid ground,” Ellis said, making the recommendation to the board.

The proposed budget recommended maintaining the current millage rates, which would likely result in higher taxes for property owners who see an increase in their assessed value and whose homes are not eligible for the Stevens-Day exemption.

Three residents spoke during the morning hearing, all against the proposed increase. A second hearing is scheduled tonight at 6 p.m.

Flowery Branch City Council appears likely to maintain their current property tax millage rate, which will result in property tax increases for owners of property that increased in assessed value. From AccessWDUN:

The proposal would see a flat millage rate of 3.264 mills, which city officials said would likely mean an increase of just over $40 for the year in property tax for the average household due to increased property assessments in the city.

“We’ve got some additional properties coming into the city. About 44 percent of the increase comes from re-evaluation of real properties,” Councilman Christopher Mundy said after Thursday’s meeting. “We have a service level that’s based off that millage rate and we don’t want to lose that service level for the city residents that have become accustomed to that.”

The council also voted to approve an increased allocation of local option sales tax dollars from Hall County. The county divides the dollars up among itself and its municipalities every 10 years based on U.S. census data.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education will partially rollback the millage rate, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Although the millage rate is decreasing, GCPS Chief Financial Officer Joe Heffron said it will not go down enough to reach the full rollback rate, which is the millage rate that would produce the exact same amount of money in revenues as the previous year’s rate.

Heffron was not able to immediately provide the rollback rate number after the school board meeting on Thursday.

But, since the district is not going all the way to the rollback rate, it will hold public hearings on the proposed millage rate. Actually, it doesn’t have a choice in the matter.

“Even if you reduce the millage rate some, if you don’t roll it all the way back, you still have to hold the three public hearings if you don’t go all the way to the rollback rate,” Heffron said. “If you don’t go all the way back to the rollback rate, you have to advertise it as a tax increase. That’s the law.”

Why is it considered a tax increase if the millage rate is going down, though? Well, the millage rate is the property tax accessed on the taxable value of a piece of residential or commercial property.

If the property value has increased, then a person could still end up paying more in property taxes unless the millage rate is taken all the way back to its full rollback rate.

The Hall County Board of Education will rollback their property tax millage rate to its lowest level in years, according to the Gainesville Times.

The proposed tax rate for the 2022-23 fiscal year was set at 15.99, down from 16.485 the year prior.

Jonathan Boykin, finance officer for the school system, said it’s the lowest tax rate since 2005.

Whether the lower rate will translate into savings for taxpayers depends on how much their property value rose.

Boykin said the tax digest is up 19% from last year.

Hall County Schools is taking $15 million from its reserves to provide $3,000 raises for employees.

Operational costs are also up — maintenance is up 17%, due to the increasing price of materials, and transportation is up 21%, due to the rising cost of diesel fuel.

Savannah-Chatham County public schools are training for active shooter scenarios, according to the Savannah Morning News.

As part of a mini-safety conference, SCCPSS school administrators, Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools System Police Department and Savannah Police Department participated in an active shooter training at STEM Academy at Bartlett on Thursday.

The purpose of the training was to prepare school leaders in how they’ll need to react during an active shooter situation. Schools are on break, so no children participated in the training. The roles of students and teachers were played by administrators.

Attendees of the conference also had discussions about drugs in schools and how to handle social media threats. “Today is to really put them in the seat of an educator (as well as) the student,” said Kurt Hetager, SCCPSS chief public affairs and administrative officer.

The Hall County Probate Court added a second judge, paid with federal COVID relief funds, to help address a case backlog, according to the Gainesville Times.

Mark Loggins, of Gainesville, was sworn in as an associate judge June 8.

According to statistics included in the county’s funding request, Probate Court saw more than a 30% jump in the number of new cases compared to pre-pandemic levels, growing from 651 new filings in 2019 to 857 new cases in 2021.

Probate Court Judge Patty Walters Laine said there have already been 475 new estates opened this year. In 2021, the court did not see that many new cases until July 29, Laine said.

Laine said Loggins’ position is a permanent addition to the court, as county management has seen the need for a second judge.

“With ARPA funding, we anticipate Judge Laine renewing that request in 2023 for that position to be funded from ARPA,” court administrator Jason Stephenson said.

Paul Smith and Theresa Watson are on the June 21 runoff election ballot for Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education District 5, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Smith and Watson are headed for the June 21 runoff election after neither of the top two candidates received more than 50% of the vote. Smith received 32.89% of the vote and Watson received 46.74%. A third candidate Treye Burrison received 20.37% of the vote.

Whoever wins the runoff will replace current District 5 school board member Irene Gadson-Hines after she retires on Dec. 31.

Kennesaw City Council member James “Doc” Eaton resigned after the city issued a business license to a Confederate souvenir shop, according to the AJC.

Wildman’s Civil War Surplus, infamous locally for its collection of racist souvenirs, closed earlier this year after its founder, Dent “Wildman” Myers, died in January and its business license expired. The store reopened Tuesday.

Councilman James “Doc” Eaton said he resigned effective June 21 after the city manager told him there was nothing the city could legally do to prevent the store from reopening.

“It breaks my heart to have to do it,” Eaton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I said, ‘If you guys can’t do anything about it, I don’t want any part of it.’”

The store’s prominent location in the heart of downtown has frustrated some city leaders and nearby business owners for decades, some of whom view it as a black eye for Kennesaw’s image. Cris Eaton Welsh, councilman Eaton’s daughter, owns a chiropractic business across the street and called Wildman’s “an absolute hate store.”

Brunswick City Commissioners approved their budget for the coming fiscal year, according to The Brunswick News.

“The budget for the 2023 fiscal year is being proposed at ($18.77 million) for the general fund and ($37.5 million) for the full budget,” said City Manager Regina McDuffie.

Brunswick Mayor Cosby Johnson said the budget is aimed at three major goals: investing in the people of Brunswick by putting more funds toward demolishing derelict buildings and improving neighborhoods; public safety by putting more toward salaries and incentives for officers at the Brunswick Police Department; and showing fiscal responsibility by wasting none of the city’s revenue.

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