Millage rate set in City of Blue Ridge

City Council, News
Blue Ridge City Council meeting 10-8-19

BLUE RIDGE, GA – The millage rate for the City of Blue Ridge will be 5.378 mills for the upcoming tax year. The city council set the millage rate during their Oct. 8 regular meeting at city hall.

With no public comments forthcoming during the third and final millage rate hearing, the council passed the FY2018 Millage Rate Ordinance by unanimous vote.

There was no public comment during the first two public hearings as well.

The city is set to receive an increase in tax revenue due to developed land, according to Mayor Donna Whitener.

Land that was undeveloped during the past year has now been developed, leading to an increase in the property taxes and an increase in the city’s tax revenue.

The option of rolling back the millage rate to offset the additional revenue was never discussed during the millage rate public hearings.

The council also approved the FY2020 Budget Resolution, setting a budget for the city that includes that additional tax revenue of nearly $200,000.

Also at the meeting, Cesar Martinez with the Downtown Development Authority and Blue Ridge Business Association told the council the annual Halloween Safe Zone in downtown Blue Ridge will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 31.

The time and date will be rain or shine. As in years past, the safe zone will be on East Main Street, from the intersection with Depot Street down to Mountain Street.

Additionally at the council’s most recent meeting, the council approved a budget of up to $15,000 to purchase lights for the annual Light Up Blue Ridge event. The event takes place in downtown Blue Ridge and culminates in the lighting of the Blue Ridge Christmas tree.

An invoice from Mountain Communications, Inc. was also approved in the amount of $18,860 for upgrades to the police department’s communications systems.

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Council holds second public hearing and first reading of millage rate ordinance

Announcements, City Council, News
City council reads millage rate

BLUE RIDGE, GA – The Blue Ridge City Council held the second public hearing about the millage rate Thursday, Sept. 12, at city hall, before the city council’s special called meeting with the downtown development authority.

With no members of the community present, the hearing closed immediately and was quickly followed by first reading of the FY2019 Millage Rate Ordinance.

City Finance Director Alicia Johnson said Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the council’s regular meeting that the millage rate for the city would remain the same in 2019 as it was in 2018.

The millage rate was set at 5.378 mills in 2018.

With no members of the public present to speak during the second public hearing, the first reading of the FY2019 Millage Rate Ordinance was done quickly.

Acting City Attorney Adam J. Rozen gave the first reading of the ordinance. Rosen is serving as the city attorney in the absence of James Balli, who has served as the city attorney since January 2018. Balli and Rozen are both from the Sams, Larkin, Huff, and Balli law firm based in Marietta. This was Rozen’s second meeting serving in the role.

The first reading of the ordinance follows:

This ordinance in-full has been advertised and will be provided for the public and posted online. (…) I’m not going to read the entire ordinance, it is somewhat lengthy, but I’ll give you the sections. Section one is your net millage rate. Second two is the net millage rate for the purpose of raising revenues to provide governmental services. Section three is 2019 ad valorem tax levy. Second four is due date of tax. Section five is interest and penalties assessed. Section six is notice, issuance of Fi-Fa, and levy and sale to collect past due and delinquent ad valorem. Section seven is the procedure for collection of past due and delinquent ad valorem taxes from years prior to the calendar year 2019. Section eight is repeal conflicting ordnances to the extent of conflict. Section nine is severability, 10 is effective date. (…) That completes the first reading for the item No. 3:  Fiscal Year 2019 Millage Rate Ordinance.

After that, the first reading was closed and the council went into a meeting with the Downtown Development Authority.

The Blue Ridge City Council is expected to approve the FY2019 Millage Rate Ordinance at the regularly-scheduled meeting beginning at 5 p.m., Oct. 8, at city hall.

Author

New Speed Limits, a Caution Light, and Four-Way Stop Coming Soon

Downtown Blue Ridge

BLUE RIDGE, Ga.—Oct. 9 the Blue Ridge City Council reviewed two separate proposals for two four-ways. One, on McKinney St. connecting to West Main St., and the other four-way between Church St. and West First St. The Blue Ridge City Council also discussed putting a caution light up on Mountain Street and lowering the Speed Limits.

The concern for the four-way stop between Church St. and West First St. was tabled until the next meeting.

Sheriff Dane Kirby mentioned that if you look at other towns they sometimes have flashing lights on their stop signs or caution signs.

Mayor Donna Whitener spoke of past efforts, “So, we had to change a lot of our old signs [to get them up to code]. The other thing is when we had the striping done, I went ahead and asked that they put bars down at the stop signs. So, those fade quickly, and we’ve had them repainted before, so we just have to stay on top of those and make sure they painted.”

Council member Rhonda Haight said, “The last one we need to discuss is a flashing light on mountain street.”

Whitener responded, “We used to have a caution light at Mountain Street and I hear all the time from folks that go into Main Street and Mountain Street that we need to think about a four-way stop. We used to have a red light there when I was a kid. We went to a flashing light and I really think we put the flashing light back up. So, people coming down the hill know.”

Council member Nathan Fitz asked, “Where?”

Whitener replied, “At the end of Main Street and Mountain Street and that intersection.”

Council member Haight and Mayor Whitener mentioned the importance of safety in this section of town because of how busy it is and there’s a constant flow of traffic.

Sheriff Kirby mentioned that school buses take that route, too, and that’s something the Council needs to be mindful about.

Council member Fitz stated, “I’m not sure about a red light, but maybe just a caution light so people will pay attention to people who cross the road.”

Council member Haight added, “We were talking, you know, council woman Cornelius and I were talking about possibly looking at speed limits. It’s busier and the streets are crowded. In front of the co-op it’s 30mph and that’s what people are talking about because there’s speeders through there.”

Kirby replied, “The average speed down there goes anywhere from 30mph to 45mph and that’s recorded. Now, there are some cases where one person was going 68 and we don’t know what kind of car it was, whether it was a police car or an ambulance. But not everyone is speeding down that road. Now, I do believe the speed limits need to be lowered because there’s a lot of foot traffic and cars down there.”

Council member Fitz stated, “I think all this needs to be planned together [meaning the road signs and speed limits]. I don’t disagree with some of these but I think we need to look at these…My personal opinion is that I would prefer not to have so many different signs all in downtown Blue Ridge…so I think we need to look at this as part of all of our signage in downtown so it can all be consistent and look good.”

Mayor Whitener responded, “The thing is with those stops signs and things there are height regulations and things like that…I think we can go ahead and divide these out to what we can go ahead and approve and then what we can decide for next time. This way, people can see it in the newspapers and out in town about what’s going to happen in that area and then it can take affect Nov 1 or Nov 10…so do you want to go ahead and start making motions?”

Council Member Fitz made the motion that they put a four-way stop on the corner of McKinney and West Main Street. Council woman Haight seconded the motion, and all were in favor for the new four-way.

Fitz made a motion that the Blue Ridge City Council table the stop sign at Church Street and West First Street and all were in favor.

Haight made the motion that the council put up the flashing light at Mountain Street. Fitz seconded the motion, and all were in favor.

So, therefore, the new changes to downtown will be a flashing light at Mountain Street and a new four-way stop at McKinney and West Main Street.

Does Downtown Blue Ridge Have a One-Way Street on the Horizon?

Community

BLUE RIDGE, Ga.—Oct. 9 Blue Ridge City Council members gathered to review their latest agenda. One item stood out to the board—traffic signs and a one-way street.

The Fannin County Accident Review Board encouraged the Fannin County Sheriff’s office to petition the Blue Ridge City Council to change the two-way road behind the courthouse—between Church St. and Summit St.—to a one-way street going northbound. It’s also been recommended that the speed limit be lowered on that section of road on West First Street.

As citizens of Blue Ridge may know from experience, there’s a lot of traffic on that section of road as far as people commuting through town, people parking to go into the courthouse or county jail. Often, the amount of traffic makes it hard to park, pull out, and overall navigate that stretch of road.

Council member Rhonda Haight stated, “Sheriff Kirby called me and said that they have had numerous accidents there and…at first he suggested a four-way stop and I think after looking at it, they may be thinking now maybe just a one-way street there.”

Mayor Donna Whitener responded, “I think with a four-way stop because they’re backing out into the road I think you’re going to still see people backing into the cars that are coming from the lower street.”

Council member Nathan Fitz asked, “So, come up the hill to the jail there’s only going to be one-way. So, when you come to the stop sign, turning right only, not turning left?”

Mayor Whitener, “Yes, they want the one-way to go back towards [Highway] 515.”

Fitz responded, “So, how do we reroute traffic coming down West First Street for people who need to go to Doss & Associates or any of those places?”

Council member Robbie Cornelius replied, “Just go straight.”

Mayor Whitener added, “Go down and then back up.”

Fitz confirmed, “So, you’d have to go down by the courthouse and then back up the hill?”

Council member Ken Gaddis asked, “What about school bus routes?”

Mayor Whitener replied, “They’ll have to do the same thing.”

Fitz stated, “I personally feel like I need a little more time with this to research it. I say we table it.”

Haight responded, “You can also get with Sheriff Kirby and he can go over the accident reports with you.”

Fitz made the motion that the council ‘table’ the petition for the one-way street until next month so that the members have time to think it over and research options Gaddis seconded the motion.

Will there be a one-way section of street on West First Street by the county jail? Stay tuned until the next council meeting.

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