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County may get new industry

A new industry may soon be on its way to Decatur County if local government leaders’ hopes are realized.

At Tuesday morning’s meeting, county commissioners voted unanimously to guarantee a loan that may be taken out by the Development Authority to purchase property with the goal of attracting a business prospect to Decatur County.

Reading a prepared statement, Board of Commissioners Chairman Palmer Rich said the county had “been involved in discussions with the Development Authority and other institutions … [to] acquire property to secure an industry. [The deal] is still in a negotiating phase, no resources have been committed and nothing has been finalized. We support what hopefully will be a positive step.”

Rich said commissioners had discussed the possible property acquisition during part of a 33-minute closed session held for the purpose of discussing personnel and real estate matters.

“The bottom line is that the banks have agreed to finance the [land] purchase if the deal goes through,” Board of Commissioners Vice-Chairman Butch Mosely told The Post-Searchlight after the meeting.

According to preliminary Georgia Department of Labor statistics, about 1,041 people, or 8.3 percent of Decatur County’s workforce of 12,578 people, were without jobs as of October 2008. Unemployment rates in surrounding Georgia counties, as of October, were the following: Grady County, 6.9 percent; Miller County, 5.0 percent; Seminole, 7.9 percent; Early, 7.5 percent, and Mitchell, 7.3 percent.

County adopts new utility rates at industrial park

County commissioners unanimously agreed to adopt new utility rates at the Industrial Air Park off U.S. 27 North.

Previously, there were a variety of different rate structures being charged to the park’s 15 current customers. Now, each customer will be charged monthly base rates of $10 for sewer use and $10 for water use. Additionally, customers would be charged $2.87 per thousand gallons of use, up to 100,000 gallons. Once they reached 100,000 gallons of use, customers would be charged $4.31 per thousand gallons.

“The rates had not been adjusted since 1994,” County Administrator Tom Patton said. “There were inequities as far as what rates were charged. This evens the playing field and helps the county to break even on providing utilities at the park so that taxpayers aren’t subsidizing the rates.”

Other business

In other business, county commissioners:

• Accepted, by unanimous vote, a proposal from JMA Architecture Inc., of Perry, Ga., for architectural and engineering services on a proposed visitation room addition at the Decatur County Correctional Institute. The proposed addition would have a total area of 3,750 square feet and will be constructed using inmate labor. JMA stated it would provide the services for approximately $11,250. County commissioners received another proposal from Jinright, Ryan & Lynn of Thomasville, Ga.

• Authorized, by unanimous vote, Tax Commissioner Don Belcher to accept checks for all taxes, fees and licenses due their respective office, in compliance with Georgia law. Patton said without the authorization, Belcher could be held liable in the event a check is returned for non-sufficient funds.

• Agreed, by unanimous vote, to keep the current minimum requirement of 10 acres to be set aside by property owners seeking a conservation use tax credit. Patton said Georgia voters’ recent passage of a tax break for owners of large timber tracts also allowed a one-time opportunity for counties to adjust their minimum conservation requirement from anywhere between 10 to 25 acres.

• Approved, by unanimous vote, a final plat from Balfour Land Company for Hidden Springs Ridge, a 15-lot residential subdivision being planned on 52.97 acres between U.S. 84 East and Harrell Mill Road.

• Re-appointed, by unanimous vote, Marlon Breedlove and Steve Bench to serve full terms on the Development Authority.