County commissioners discuss solar tax abatements, survey for paving Earl Hester Road

Published 11:29 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Decatur County Commissioners met for their second meeting of the month on Tuesday evening. Following the invocation, pledge, and approval of minutes, the commissioners opened up for a public hearing regarding abatements offered to solar projects in the county. Currently, solar projects that generate 200 megawatts per day receive a 60%  tax abatement for 16 years, while projects that generate 100 megawatts receive a 50% abatement for 10 years. The commission is currently discussing whether to adjust the abatement rates, or eliminate them altogether. Should they be changed or eliminated, this will not affect any solar projects that are already established, while solar projects that are currently in negotiations would have a period of five years to begin construction/operations to keep the abatements. Local farmer Glenn Heard took to the podium to voice his opinion on the matter, supporting the solar projects in the county, while also arguing for an end to the abatements these companies have received. Following Heard, resident Kevin Willford took to the podium, asking about the fiscal benefit of solar to citizens; Commissioner Bobby Barber further explained the abatement and what was being discussed. No other citizens came forward to add anything. No final decision has yet been made on the abatements.

Following the public hearing, the next item on the agenda was a request by Sandra Brown for the paving of Earl Hester Road. Multiple residents of the road were present at the meeting, with Brown acting as the spokesperson. County Administrator Alan Thomas and the commissioners informed the group of the lengthy process required to have a road paved, from surveying the land, to the years of wait time for acquiring T-SPLOST funding for the project. The group expressed their desire to begin the surveying process, with the commissioners informing them it would not be until next year that a survey could be scheduled. The commissioners also informed the group that disagreements with landowners on the road about right of ways could derail a paving project. The commissioners agreed to move forward with the surveying process.

After this discussion, they considered the approval of a community development block grant (CDBG) agreement for Breedlove Road, with the grant in the amount of $1,694,586. The grant was categorized as disaster recovery for Hurricane Michael. The commissioners approved the agreement.

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Next, the commissioners considered an extension for the residential garbage services intergovernmental agreement, specifically the garbage service agreement between the city and county. The commissioners agreed to the two-year extension.

Following this the commissioners voted to appoint Annalee Yarbrough to the Board of Assessors.

Lastly, the commissioners voted to approve errors and releases, after which the meeting was adjourned.