Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin County’s 2019 millage rate dropped by 5.7% after Board of Education and Commissioners both lower their portions.
Commissioners decreased their rate to 3.938, which was .875 mills down from 2019. The Board of Education dropped to 10.593 from 2018’s 11.20 mills.
The combined rate equals 14.531 for the total millage rate in 2019.
Post Two Glenn Patterson asked if the lowering had, “Any negative effects?”
Post One Earl Johnson explained the county is worth more this year than last year.
“There’s more taxable dollars on the digest that means we can’t keep charging the same millage rate or it’s going to be considered a tax increase,” stated Johnson, “I don’t think there’s going to be any negative effects. I just think learning situations like [ISO rating] that needs to be in the old churner a lot sooner.”
A net gain of $200,000 will go into the general fund for the county even with the millage rollback.
“I think the citizens of the county deserve any tax relief we can give them,” said Chairman Stan Helton.
“It’s nice having the cheapest millage rate in the county, but if it’s not allowing you to equal good services,” said Johnson, “At some point in time, there’s a Board of Commissioners going to have to evaluate our services versus our millage rate and evaluate accordingly.”
Helton added that a tax increase is the last option and would rather cut budgets to maintain county operations.
Commissioners unanimously approved the rollback.
McCaysville, Ga. – The McCaysville City Council held a public hearing on Aug. 29 to discuss the city’s 2019 – 2020 budget.
Read by McCaysville Mayor Thomas Seabolt, the resolution to adopt the 2019 – 2020 budget was met with no opposition by citizens who were present for the hearing.
According to the proposed budget the City General Fund is projecting a revenue of $1,455,526.00 and projecting expenses to be $1,455,526.00. Similarly the city’s Water and Sewer Service is projecting a revenue of $2,105,450.00 and projecting expenses to run $2,105,450.00.
These projections give the City of McCaysville a balanced budget for the 2019 – 2020 fiscal year that will end June 20, 2020.
“I think the budget’s wonderful,” Councilmember Sue Beaver shared her opinion of the proposed budget noting that the city needs everything that is in the expenditures in order to function.
Points of interest in the budget include the following departments:
Administrative proposed budget : $234,259.00
Police Department proposed budget : $585,047.00
Street Department proposed budget : $245,615.00
City Park proposed budget : $374,250.00
Municipal Court proposed budget : $16,355.00
Water Distribution proposed budget : $1,614,995.00
Sewer Collection and Disposal proposed budget : $389,455.00
Water Treatment Plant proposed budget : $101,000.00
General Fund projected revenue : $1,455,526.00
SPLOST projected revenue : $333,020.00
SPLOST Capital Outlay proposed expenditures : $202,500.00
The proposed budget for the City of McCaysville 2019 – 2020 fiscal year is expected to be voted in unanimously on Sep. 10 at the councils’ next regular monthly meeting.
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County Schools start back Wednesday, August 7, 2019!
The official calendar 2019 – 2020 calendar is as follows!
Note: Days for Spring Break and holidays can be used to make up days missed due to inclement weather or other reasons.
7:30 – 8:00 Students report to the cafeteria with breakfast being served starting at 7:40 am.
8:05 – 9:30 Block 1 Class
9:36 – 11:01 Block 2 Class
11:07 – 1:04 Block 3 Class and Lunch
1:10 – 2:35 Block 4 Class
2:40 – 3:10 FLEX Time/Block
West Fannin Elementary School Daily Schedule:
8:15 – 8:40
8:40 – 10:50
10:50 – 11:45
11:45 – 1:30
1:30 – 2:00
Gross Motor Skills
2:00 – 2:45
8:15 – 9:50
9:50 – 10:40
10:40 – 11:20
11:20 – 12:20
12:20 – 1:15
1:15 – 2:45
8:10 – 8:55
8:55 – 9:50
9:50 – 10:40
10:40 – 11:30
11:30 – 12:25
12:25 – 1:25
1:25 – 2:45
8:05 – 8:55
8:55 – 9:50
9:50 – 10:45
10:45 – 11:40
11:40 – 12:40
12:40 – 2:45
8:00 – 8:55
8:55 – 11:00
11:00 – 12:00
12:00 – 12:55
12:55 – 3:00
8:00 – 8:50
8:50 – 10:55
1st Block/1st and 2nd Period
10:55 – 11:50
11:50 – 12:50
12:50 – 3:00
2nd Block/3rd and 4th Period
8:00 – 9:55
1st Block/1st and 2nd Period
9:55 – 11:50
2nd Block/3rd and 4th Period
11:50 – 12:35
12:35 – 1:25
1:25 – 2:10
2:10 – 3:00
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Blue Ridge, Ga – July financial report informed commissioners that insurance claims blew 2019 risk management budget by 37 percent.
Chief Financial Officer Robin Gazaway delivered her monthly financial update for 2019 through June. Several departments were over budget six months into the year. Some departments carried pre-payments for leases from the beginning of the year.
Gazaway also met with all department heads to address line items individually.
However, Risk Management went 37 percent over budget, outpacing overages in other departments.
Health insurance claims represented the bulk of Risk Management expenditures. Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson, asked “what are we looking at as far as curtailing it. We’re already way over what we budgeted?
The new insurance policy which took effect on July 1 should help reduce the expense. The insurance company, who works with the county, expected with spouses coming off the policy that government could save over $200,000-$300,000 in insurance claims.
Gazaway stated, “We installed some new programs to hopefully keep employees healthier, but as far as claims go, that’s just when they go to the doctor.”
However, Gazaway doesn’t have the numbers of how many people stopped using county insurance in July. The number of claims was down from last year, but no guarantee about people’s health for the rest of the year.
In 2017, the fund balance covered the overages. However, if insurance claims continue to rise, then more health care changes could be coming for Fannin County employees or changing the entire insurance program.
“Certain people that have gone over a certain amount, reinsurance pays us back. We haven’t gotten some of that money back, but they will eventually if it’s the same people, give us money back, explained Gazaway, “We have a stopgap that we pay out before we get the money back.”
Currently, Fannin County has $200,000 in reinsurance claims.
“I’m very concerned about this number,” stated Johnson, “I’m not trying to be hard-nosed. I don’t deal with numbers where I just sit here and hope. It’s like me hoping none of my guys wreck today. I know what the cost could be if they all decide to hit each other.”
Gazaway assured that all the reinsurance money back from some employees, but has to go over the stopgap first. At the year-end, the county will get a check back if it spent over the maximum amount, which is $2.4M.
“I just budget less than that hoping we don’t have to spend that money,” stated Gazaway.
2019 marked the third year Fannin County operated off a self-insured plan.
“The motivation to go to that in the first place was the anticipation that there would be savings, which hasn’t happened,” stated Chairman Stan Helton, “I guess a conventional insurance program, they would tell us the cost so we can allocate it that way…I don’t like it either. It’s the biggest variable cost in the whole budget.”
Johnson asked, “Can we buy the amount down?”
Gazaway offered to raise deductibles or out of pocket costs, but everything affects the employee. For the last three years, deductible and premiums have remained the same.
“At some point, we’re going to have to be competitive with other benefit plans,” said Johnson, “eventually the county might have to absorb some of the costs because everything that happens can’t directly affect the employee. Other
plans might be more attractive to an employee.”
The county also pays for tobacco cessation methods on the new plan, which means the county will spend more money in the short-term with hopes that future claims decrease. Currently, a two-week supply of patches costs around $30 and a two-week supply of nicotine gum cost $40.
Still, smokers are expected to pay an extra $50 on their insurance premium starting January 2020, and the county doesn’t cover cessation methods forever. Several tobacco users have informed Gazaway they will pay the $50, so county might not experience and expenses increase from covering cessation patches, gum, inhaler or lozenge.
SPLOST and LOST for 2019 continue to rise with SPLOST 10% ahead of 2018 intake at this time. Currently, the county’s budget even for the year, not under or over.
Recreation Department Improvements
Recreation Department Head Eddie O’Neal presented a bid for a TOPO survey of the park to fix drainage problems. The bid for $13,700 TOPO service provides Recreation Department with a starting point for creating solutions to heavy rains on soccer, baseball, and softball fields.
“Playing surfaces are lower than walking paths and parking lot, and it’s a continual fight to maintain,” said O’Neal,
“We can take the TOPO survey to engineers get help with drainage and what needs to happen on these fields.”
SPLOST funds will pay for improvements.
“We’ve had a considerable amount of rain,” stated Post Two Commissioner Glenn Patterson, “They wouldn’t be able to practice or play games.”
455 to 500 kids use those fields every year.
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.
“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.”
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.
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