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County to evaluate property assessment

County commissioners will take a closer look at a proposed contract with the consultant who provides property appraisal services for Decatur County.

Commissioners agreed, by unanimous vote, to table renewal of a contract with Norman Appraisal Services of Hamilton County, Tenn., for real property maintenance and appraisals update.

Board of Commissioners Vice-Chairman Earl Perry proposed tabling the contract until a Norman Appraisal Services representative could attend one of the commissioners’ meetings to answer questions and further clarify certain aspects of the contract.

Perry said he was concerned Norman, which had been providing the service for several years, was not performing to his satisfaction. He cited an instance which a county resident was incorrectly charged property tax for 18 years on both a residence destroyed by fire and another residence built to replace the first.

Perry also stated his belief that improvements were being made to some properties without them being reviewed for tax assessment purposes in a timely manner. He asked his fellow commissioners to consider placing a requirement in the contract that all properties be assessed on a regular basis.

Board of Assessors Chairman Joe Hartzog said his board was aware of the issue and was taking steps toward rectifying it. According to Hartzog, the Board of Assessors had previously unanimously recommended commissioners approve the contract with Norman, and Commissioner Butch Mosely said he believed commissioners should trust the assessors’ reasoning and judgment.

In a separate but related item, commissioners tabled, by unanimous vote, renewal of a contract with Horne Enterprises of Mitchell County, Ga., for updates to the county’s computer-based property tax maps for a fee of $13,440. Perry recommended the item be tabled after Tax Assessor Ruth Eakin replied that Horne, who has done the maintenance updates for a number of years, was the only provider contacted about the service.

County Attorney Brown Moseley said he believed that since the service had an estimated cost of more than $10,000, it would fall under county purchasing guidelines, which require bids to be sought from multiple vendors.

Other business

 Commissioner Butch Mosely participated in the meeting by telephone. However, due to intermittent problems with the quality of the phone connection, Mosely abstained or was unable to vote on a few items of business during the approximately 90-minute meeting. Votes taken without Mosely were recorded as 4-0 votes.

 Adopted, by a 4-0 vote, a Wireless Telecommunications and Facilities ordinance and by a separate 5-0 vote, an accompanying fee schedule. Commissioners also agreed 4-0 to renew a contract with the Georgia Center of Local Government, a consultant, to handle applications for new wireless telecommunication towers and co-locations. The new fees are $3,500 for new towers and $2,500 for co-locations, in addition with separate monies paid by the applicant that will be put in escrow as compensation to the consultant for reviewing the application.

 Approved, by unanimous vote, an updated bylaws for Keep Decatur County Beautiful. Among other changes, the new bylaws will setup a new six-member board of directors appointed by county commissioners and the Bainbridge City Council. The new board will replace a prior self-appointed board.

 Approved, by unanimous vote, an alcoholic beverage license for Sheri Ingle, doing business as One Eyed Jack Lounge, 106 Mount Zion Church Road. According to County Administrator Tom Patton, the establishment will be located a legal distance away from the church.

 Tabled, by unanimous vote, consideration of renewing of a contract with accounting firm Fowler, Holley, Rambo and Stalvey of Valdosta, Ga., for annual auditing of the county’s finances. A representative of the firm was present to present the audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008.

 Approved, by unanimous vote, a low bid of $13,701 from Industrial Propane Gas Inc., for refurbishing of the peak shaving plant at the county’s Industrial Air Park. Patton said the plant uses propane to serve as a backup to the natural gas service maintained at the industrial park. The plant needed to be refurbished to comply with new Georgia Public Service Commission regulations, including safety shutoff requirements. The plant has a 30,000-gallon propane tank, which has 7,500 gallons in it currently. That amount will be emptied into a temporary on-site storage tanker before the refurbishing.

 Approved, by unanimous vote, a contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation to resurface the entirety of Hales Landing Road. Under the terms of the contract, the County Road Department will do the repaving work while the state government will pay for the associated cost.

 Approved, by 4-0 vote, a bid of $21,829 from Riverbend Ford for a large-size sport utility vehicle (Ford Expedition) to be used as a first responder vehicle by Emergency Medical Service Director Bill Hogan and his staff. Hogan said the truck would be outfitted using supplies and equipment taken from ambulances, which have gone out of service. County Finance Director Carl Rowland said the bid specifications were sent to six vendors, however, only Riverbend submitted a bid.

 Held a closed session to consider personnel and litigation matters. When the open meeting resumed, commissioners voted to appoint Commissioner Mosely to the Keep Decatur County Beautiful board.