Fannin Operating Two Percent Under Budget

News

Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin County’s operating two percent under budget through April of 2019.

As of April 30, 33 percent of the budget’s been spent for the year with Fire/EMS/ EMA, Tax Assessor, Sheriff’s Office, and County Jail still showing over budget due to the first of the year lump sum lease and loan payments made at the beginning of the year.

Per the April 23 meeting, Chief Financial Officer Robin Gazaway broke out the Public Works and SPLOST Budget to provide more clarity about where the money comes from and is going.

Fannin County Board of commissioners budget

Several departments are still showing over for the year.

“The public works old SPLOST is because we’re going to use the old money on the roads until it runs out, and then we’ll start on the new SPLOST,” explained Gazaway.

Baseball admissions factored in slightly into the recreation budget, but the month of May was not reflected in this report.

“We’re two percent under budget because we’re making up some of the differences from earlier in the year,” stated Gazaway, “LOST and SPLOST collections are up again this month from the prior years.”

Thirty-three percent into the county’s operating budget as of April 30, 2019.

 

 

EMA Director Robert Graham advised choosing Custom Works for the ambulance remounts at $104,980 as the most acceptable vendor for the job. The business also priced an add-on door locking systems for the ambulance at $1,800, bringing the total to $106,780.

“The locking system on the doors on the box [will be] activated front door locks when we lock the front doors,” said Graham, “We need this because we make many trips out of town to hospitals, and we need to lock the back of the truck. Our drugs and equipment are all in the back.”

Currently, seven doors and compartments must be locked with a key when getting out of the truck, and EMA employees must remember to unlock these doors when going back out to have access to them.

“It would be a great benefit to add that to this truck and going forward in the future to the standard bid specs,” lobbied Graham.

The truck won’t be available until closer to 2020 due to Chevrolet chassis unavailability.

Graham also confirmed that the county wouldn’t be short on equipment during this time with back-up trucks and placing an order for a new ambulance to replace an aging one with 90,000 plus miles on it.

Next, Graham introduced bids for a new ambulance to be purchased in the 2020 and on that year’s budget. Currently, new ambulance models aren’t available, but a waiting list has formed for 2020. Graham wanted to go ahead and get Fannin’s EMA name on the list.

“If we don’t get a truck each year that we fall behind and have maintenance issues,” said Graham.

“You had this idea that it was better to go ahead and place an order with the stipulation that it wouldn’t be delivered until after the first [of the year] because in the past you wouldn’t get this new ambulance until fall,” explained Helton to the room.

MEDIX proposed $140,130 for a 2020 model Chevrolet with the delivery after January 1, 2020. Custom Trucks and Bodyworks offered $143,021 for a 2020 model Chevrolet with the delivery after January 1. ETR, LLC proposed $187,768 for a 2019 model Ford F-450 with the delivery after January 1.

The Commissioners approved Custom Works for remount and tabled the new ambulance bids after Graham asked for more time to review.

Waste Management decision was tabled again to give the commissioner’s more time to review Advanced Disposal Systems and CASH proposals after meeting with both organizations.

Director of Public Works Zack Ratcliff experienced an equipment emergency after losing a 16-year-old mower in the middle of mowing season and had found a used replacement mower for $43,500 with 70,000 hours on it.

Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson said, “The piece that [the used mower] is replacing, we salvage it and get rid of it. It’s got way too many hours to put any more money into it.”

Ratcliff stated that he had no plans to fix the old mower with over 100,000 hours in it already.
The emergency purchase puts the county back at 10 mowers and back on track with mowing for the spring and summer.

FCHS 2019 Prom Court

Fannin County High

Here is this year’s Fannin County High School Prom Court.

Pictured above are your King and Queen, Cole Harper and Cassie Stepp

Pictured below are you Prince and Princess, Jade White and Hannah Cruse

Fannin County School System Kindergarten Registration For Fall 2019

Announcements, Rebel's Corner

2019 Junior FCMS and Miss FCMS Pageant

Fannin Middle

Miss FCMS Maddie Denton and Junior Miss FCMS Annelise Hughes


(Left to Right) Junior Miss FCMS 2nd Runner-up Abby Chambers, Junior Miss FCMS 1st Runner-up Morgan Craine, Junior Miss FCMS Annelise Hughes, Miss FCMS Maddie Denton, Miss FCMS 1st Runner-up Dadrian Flowers, Miss FCMS 2nd Runner-up Abigail Baliles 

 


(Left to Right) The Sponsorship Award Gretchen Alewel, The People’s Choice Award Ashlynn Patterson, Miss Congeniality Award Katelan Gilreath, Miss Photogenic Sydney Chancey

Fannin County School System aces SPLOST audit

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – An audit of the Fannin County School System’s SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) collection and spending has shown that the district is being good stewards of these funds.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney explained the purposes of the independent audit were a requirement by the state when SPLOST collections exceed $5 million within a county.

SPLOST collections for 2017 totaled approximately $5.1 million and collections for 2018 topped that number bringing in $5.6 million.

Finance Director Susan Holloway explained that the Fannin County School calendar year ran from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, and that collections during this period was the first fiscal school year that the system met the amount requiring an audit.

Georgia code section O.C.G.A.20-2-491 requires public school systems to maintain continuing performance audits for expenditures of sales tax.
Mauldin and Jenkins was selected to carry out the audit for the school system.

“They audit 40 school systems, including more schools in Georgia than any other firm. They also audit 53 counties including more counties in Georgia than any other firm, and they audit 112 cities including more cities in Georgia than any other firm,” Holloway said explaining the reason for choosing Mauldin and Jenkins and added, “We felt they were solid.”

The audit’s purpose was to find out if the Fannin County School System was meeting 3 requirements:

  • 1. Provide a goal that ensures tax funds are spent efficiently and economically, so that the school district receives the maximum benefit from dollars collected.
  • 2. Provide reports not less than once annually to ensure that the terms laid out in item 1 are being met.
  • 3. Provide for periodic public recommendations not less than once annually for improvements in meeting the goal specified in item 1.

Mauldin and Jenkins tested approximately 60 claims. These claims accounted for $1,027,970 or 15.3 percent of total disbursements for the year.
Holloway announced the findings of the audit saying that Mauldin and Jenkins “concluded that the Fannin County School District’s SPLOST is operating in compliance with all laws and regulations, the referendum approved by the county citizens and industry best practices.”

Special recognition was given to Director of Maintenance and Facilities Danny Shinpaugh by the auditing firm for his role in providing the BOE with continuous and thorough updates regarding construction projects relating to school properties.

Having looked into the bidding and decision making processes involved, focusing on the recently constructed Agricultural Center, along with negotiations that had been made, Mauldin and Jenkins also recognized Shinpaugh’s outstanding management in overseeing construction projects.

“It was a very fair process,” Holloway said of the manner in which the audit was performed and gave special credit to her team in the finance department for the hard work and many hours they put in all year: “There’s a lot of times they’re the first ones here and the last ones to leave and they’re willing to dig in.”

“With the Superintendent and the Board’s support I have been able to hand pick these awesome ladies. I appreciate you for that,” Holloway said expressing thanks for all her fellow coworkers.

Dr. Gwatney shared his thoughts on the findings of the SPLOST audit: “It’s comforting to have the reassurance of an external audit to show that these funds that are being collected are being utilized legally, properly, ethically and in the manner that matches the referendum.”

The Fannin County School System is now hoping that the residents of Fannin County will continue the district’s success and provide the school system with a continuation of collections for SPLOST.

With the SPLOST IV referendum allowing the school system to collect but not exceed $27.5 million by March 2021, projections are indicating that this goal will be met before the ability to collect SPLOST funds expires.

It is the hopes of the BOE and fellow faculty with in the Fannin County School System that the public will allow for a continuation of this collection with the increased cap amount to be $34.5 million.

A Special Election will be held on Tuesday, March 19 for the approval of the SPLOST V referendum and Early Voting is taking place now. If passed the new referendum would allow FCSS to move the cap of SPLOST funds to $34.5 million.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

What Did The Oscars Portend?

Opinion

What Did The Oscars Portend?
The 2019 Oscars, in the final analysis, was the second lowest viewed Oscars event in it’s history. We know why. The movie industry no longer celebrates a positive America but dwells in revealing a racist America. The skinny little director, Spike Lee, in his plum purple suit, matching soft cloth cap, and weird jewelry, was the very epitome of uncontrolled racism and hate.

We’re told Spike is a “Hollywood celebrity.” What makes him one? Because he’s black and makes movies or because he’s loud, flashy with an anti-American agenda and serves well the Hollywood left’s propaganda message? It’s hard to tell really.

I did not watch the awards ceremonies from beginning to end but, to escape inane Progressive car insurance ads, pleas for monetary gifts for this needy organization or that, I would flip to the Oscars and did so just as Spike Lee won his Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. I missed his bitter tantrum when his movie, Black Klansman didn’t make the cut for best picture.

Watching his acceptance performance, talking about love not hate, diversity and blah, blah, while spewing racist hate in nearly every sentence, convinced me that Spike Lee is not a real celebrity, just a faux one, a ridiculous Hollywood character that the liberals who are Hollywood, consider to be only an appendage to celebrity, barely tolerable because of his dissimilarities.

Spike is tolerated because he is a boorish, loudmouthed, brash, flashy fellow who can condemn others and reject criticism because he can safely hide behind the shield of racism. Actually, do we really think that anybody outside the Hollywood film industry really cares what Spike Lee, or any of the other anti-American leftists entertainers really think? Mostly, Hollywood is all about themselves, that’s why the industry is moving out, some here to Georgia.

The one movie I shall take the time to watch is the Best Picture Oscar winner, Green Book. with black actor Mahershala Ali, who won an Oscar for best supporting actor and white actor Viggo Mortenson, who didn’t. They did a masterful job! I’ve watched trailers of the movie and it’s one I look forward too not because it has a theme overcoming racism but because I heard some real good dialog, saw some great acting and I am sufficiently acquainted with that era of Southern history to know what it was all about and not be conned into believing otherwise.

I enjoyed driving Miss Daisy some thirty years ago too, for exactly the same reasons. Unlike Driving Miss Daisy, the driver in Green Book was a tough white guy, a bouncer from New York who need the job and was ambivalent about who hired him. He certainly recognized the racial differences but his passenger was the better man at least professionally. It all works out.

So, why the vitriol about this movie? There were three other movies in Oscar contention that addressed racism: Black Panther, a feel good cartoon about a black Super Hero in a blacks only dream world of good guys; Roma, about the labor travails of poor Latina’s, and Spike Lee’s Klansman. I believe what really got Spike’s racist goat in a tither was the fact that the Green Book, about racial reconciliation in a Jim Crow south, was directed by a white guy. Ouch!

All the rest of those artistic categories I could care less about. Doubtless they were well deserved and good on them but, if the Spike Lee train of thought permeates deeper into the conscious fabric of what is left of Hollywood, the whole shebang could soon die. Americans want to see good movies, not Leftist propaganda. Why can’t they understand that?
Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em!

Author

TVA River Management Continues to Address Above Average Rainfall in 2019

Announcements, Outdoors

TVA River Management teams are preparing Valley reservoirs for above normal rainfall forecasted to continue over the weekend and increase next week.

The current forecast for an inch of rainfall through Saturday could ramp up to bring an additional 3-6 inches mostly during the middle of next week.

“After record rainfall in 2018, we are seeing much of the same so far in early 2019,” said James Everett, senior manager for TVA’s River Forecast Center. “With above average rainfall totals on already-saturated ground possible next week, we are moving lots of water through the system to create as much storage as possible in our reservoirs while also limiting flows to protect downstream areas.”

TVA has increased spill or sluice released at its tributaries through its Cherokee, Douglas, Norris, Melton Hill and Apalachia dams to create more storage capacity. Increased releases at all nine Tennessee River main stem dams are expected with the possible exception of Kentucky Dam in order to provide flood control operations on the Ohio River.

TVA river management activities – including spilling, sluicing, hydro generation, and reducing flows at some locations – will be ongoing at tributary and main stem sites across the valley, with release strategies being updated around the clock by TVA’s River Forecast Center staff as the rainfall forecast develops.

Impacts across the valley include:

The Tennessee River at Savannah, Tenn., is expected to reach flood stage by Friday tomorrow and continue rising several feet through late next week.

Continued TVA coordination with the US Army Corps of Engineers to manage flows at Kentucky Dam and Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River to avert flood damage on the Mississippi River and Ohio River, which already is 10 feet above flood stage.

Possible closures of locks at Watts Bar and Chickamauga dams and commercial navigation through the Nickajack Gorge.

TVA also will be reaching out to the National Weather Service, farmers, marinas, local EMA’s and other groups across the Valley to provide advanced warning about rising river levels.

This weather event is a continuation of above average rainfall patterns which resulted in 2018 being the wettest year on record across the Tennessee Valley with a basin average of 67.0 inches of rain, about 16 inches above normal.

In an average year, TVA prevents about $250 million in flood damage in the TVA region and an additional $17 million averted along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers through the operation of its dams.

Fannin County Schools will seek SPLOST continuation

Community, News, Rebel's Corner
Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, GEMA, FEMA, Michael Ruple, EMA Director Robert Graham, Lt. Darvin Couch

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) has voted in favor of the continuation of collections for SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) and now they hope the public will do the same.

SPLOST has helped in the funding of several projects within the Fannin County School System (FCSS). Some of the more recent notable projects include the construction of the Agricultural Building located off of Windy Ridge Road and the technology upgrades seen throughout the FCSS campuses.

Blue Ridge, Board of Education, Fannin County School System, Fannin County Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Fannin County, Georgia, Terry Bramlett, Finance Director, Susan Holloway, Director of Planning, Policy, & Curriculum, Darren Danner, Lynn Doss,  Raymond James and Associates, Gray Pannell and Woodward LLP, Mary Ann Conner, Chuck Cook, Fannin County Elections and Registration, SPLOST IV, SPLOST V, Special Election, March 19, 2019

The new Agricultural Center located off of Windy Ridge Road is a direct result of Fannin County SPLOST collections.

“That’s where I feel like we are being good stewards of our taxpayer dollars,” FCSS Finance Director Susan Holloway addressed the BOE concerning SPLOST funds, “Because what we have is aged facilities, but we are doing, I think, an excellent job of maintaining and keeping them in top notch shape.”

The latest SPLOST update for Nov. 2018 in the amount of $500,946.90 shows that collections in the account are following an increasing trend.
With the SPLOST IV referendum allowing the school system to collect but not exceed $27.5 million by March 2021, projections are indicating that this goal will be met before the ability to collect SPLOST funds expires.

Holloway explains, “We’re in our SPLOST IV referendum and that referendum is for $27,500,000.00. The collections for this referendum began in April of 2016. It ends in March of 2021. A SPLOSTt referendum runs for 5 years. If we stay on this path that we are on we are probably going to cap out at that $27.5 million before we get to that date.”

It is the hopes of the BOE and fellow faculty with in the FCSS that the public will allow for a continuation of this collection with the increased cap amount to be $34.5 million.

The school system has worked closely with local council Lynn Doss, Raymond James and Associates, Gray Pannell and Woodward LLP, and Mary Ann Conner and Chuck Cook with the Fannin County Elections and Registration Office to have an SPLOST referendum added as a Special Election in 2019.

Based on projections from Gray Pannell and Woodward LLP, the FCSS is asking for the increased amount of $34.5 million. Holloway explains the number, “We should not cap out on this one. Hopefully in five years we’ll get the life out of this SPLOST.”

Along with the additional requested SPLOST collections, the BOE discussed preapproval of bonding $14 million for emergency purposes.
“The Board of Education utilizes bonding not to complete projects, but as emergency funding,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney clarified the discussion for the preapproval.

School Board Member Terry Bramlett expanded on the subject, “We’re simply reserving the right to do that (obtain a bond) should we have an emergency, because there would be interest related to a bonded portion of the money. All efforts would be exhausted not to do that.”

What will the Fannin County School System use SPLOST collections for? According the new referendum the purpose of these funds will be allocated in the following areas:

  • A) adding to, renovating, repairing, improving, equipping, and demolishing existing school buildings, school system facilities, parking lots and driveways, physical education/athletic facilities and fields;
  • B) updating and purchasing HVAC systems, system technology, electrical systems, nutritional equipment and electronic communications systems;
  • C) acquiring new computer hardware, technology equipment, safety and security equipment, and software;
  • D) acquiring miscellaneous new equipment, fixtures, and furnishings for the school district;
  • E) acquiring school buses and other vehicles, transportation and maintenance equipment and facilities;
  • F) acquiring, constructing and equipping new buildings and facilities useful and desirable, including but not limited to, a new          STEM/Science wing at Fannin County Middle School, a new Health and Wellness Multipurpose Facility; a new professional development facility;
  • G) acquiring and/or improving land for school system facilities;
  • H) purchasing traditional and electronic textbooks, purchase new and upgrades to print and electronic media collections

The new projected STEM/Science wing at Fannin County Middle School, along with the new projected Health and Wellness Multipurpose Facility at Fannin County High School were highlighted as projects of the SPLOST V referendum.

According to Bramlett SPLOST “allows people who visit our fair country to participate rather than having to rely solely on the property owners.”

Attorney Lynn Doss backed up this statement saying that statistically between 54 -70 percent of SPLOST collections in Fannin County comes from visitors.

Director of Planning, Policy, & Curriculum Darren Danner spoke of the SPLOST V referendum: “This is not an additional tax. This is a continuation of SPLOST IV. If we meet that threshold before March of 2021,” adding, “If Fannin County voters approve this it will kick in immediately.”

Gwatney summed up the feelings of the BOE with a simple statement: “Thankful for SPLOST.”

A Special Election will be held on Tuesday, March 19 for the approval of the SPLOST V referendum, allowing FCSS to move the cap of SPLOST funds to $34.5 million. This referendum is expected to be the only item on the ballot.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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