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Council plans meeting, approves ordinances

By PHIL BOYUM
pboyum@statesboroherald.com

    It’s time to talk about next year’s millage rate. The Statesboro City Council set a public meeting for September 5th to discuss the 2007 rate.
    George Wood, city manager, said, “We are not going to raise taxes. We are rolling back the millage rate so that any growth in appraised value is rolled back.”
    Wood explained that individuals may face minor changes in their actual tax burden. This depends upon whether the new property assessment from the county is greater than or less than the average increase in assessment. He said the average property assessment went up 9%.
    “If your assessment went up 9% and the rollback is 9%[from 6.921 mills to 6.358 mills], then you’ll essentially break even,” Wood said. “This is a full rollback. Neither the county nor the school board is rolling their rates back, but we are.”
    In other business, the city council voted on two ordinance changes.
    The parking ordinance unanimously passed in a second reading. Owners or tenants will not be able to park between their house and a city street, unless the area is paved. Parking on unimproved surfaces will be restricted to the side and rear of houses. The ordinance affects only areas zoned R-15 and higher.
    Hardship waivers for space constraints or health reasons can be granted by the planning director on a case by case basis. The planning director, along with the city marshall, will oversee violations.
    The city council also voted to amend the alcohol ordinance to comply with existing state laws. Most of the adjustments were made to remove any language regarding the ability of the alcohol control board or the city council to levee fines. This practice is limited to municipal courts, by state law.
    There was some confusion during the meeting about the precise language to be used. As a result, the mayor pushed the item to the end of the meeting and took a short recess to confirm the language.
    After the break, the council voted to accept the changes except for the item that would have removed most of the alcohol board oversight ability. The city manager and attorney will check state law, reword parts of the ordinance and bring it up at the next meeting.
    The council also approved the preliminary plats for two subdivisions. Jerry Jennings’ 140-lot Northbridge Subdivision is planned for the south side of Highway 301, near the intersection of Veterans Memorial Parkway. Hunter Chadwick’s 150-lot Hartford Subdivision is planned for the east side of Packinghouse Road, near Acorn Lane.
    Also, the city voted to approve two new positions for the city - IT manager and IT analyst. The city will no longer contract for IT service and will bring the operation in-house. Wood said this option is within budget.
    The council voted to continue the city’s involvement in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. At no cost to the city, the program allows low-income citizens to apply for heating assistance from the state, who then pays the energy providers on their behalf.
    In other business, the First United Methodist Church has requested the city investigate the possibility of closing a portion of Walnut Street between Cherry and Bulloch Streets. The city will have to check the utilities running under the street and perform a traffic assessment before making its decision.

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