McCaysville, GA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) addressed a large gathering on Tuesday, July 18, at 3:30 p.m. at McCaysville City Park. The topic was Fannin County priorities included in the Fiscal Year 2018 State Budget.
Ralston said he is excited about everything going on in McCaysville adding, “Hwy 5 is heading more and more to becoming a reality” this has been a project which has been discussed since the ’80’s.
He continued explaining how every year they go through in the session of the general assembly a budget process. They appropriate about 25 billion dollars from the budget based on the revenues they take in and then allocate. Sixty-two percent of our State Budget goes to education. Ralston explained how they balanced the budget without raising taxes and pointed out there are 5 to 6 states who cannot do this. Georgia is now one of only 8 states in the Nation who have a Triple A bond rating. What this means for Georgia is if it has to incur bonded indebtedness it can be done with little to no interest.
The specific items in this year budget which directly impact McCaysville and Fannin County were $500,000 allocation for a new street and park enhancement project for the City of McCaysville. This will include work for drainage, trail work, and work to enhance the park. There was $75,000 designated for a Young Farmer Program at Fannin County High School.
The final item Ralston discussed was regarding a message he received late in the session when he was home one evening. He received a text about a big brush fire which occurred between McCaysville and Mineral Bluff and they had to wait 3 to 4 hours to get a unit from the Georgia Forestry Commission to help put it out and it was getting bigger by the minute. Ralston said he had found out over the years the assets at the Georgia Forestry Commission location in Fannin County had been diverted to other places.
He told the crowd, “I went in on Monday morning and I said we got to fix that and we did and here’s what’s going to happen. We are going to utilize primarily existing funds to expand the Fannin County District Office Georgia Forestry Commission and renovate that office. We are gong to have an additional transport and tractor unit, 2 new units have been relocated to Fannin County. Hiring a new ranger position which will bring staffing levels to a Chief Ranger Supervisor and 3 rangers for improved response time and oversight to protect property owners and the forest here in our community.
Ralston said these things were important and he wanted to come and share the information with the community. He expressed his appreciation for the cooperation from the City, the School System, the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce and of course the law enforcement.
The Blue Ridge City Council held its regular meeting on March 8th 2016 and may be the shortest on record. Lasting approximately 25 minutes the meeting moved swiftly through the short agenda.
The meeting ran smoothly and during old business the council voted on Serveline, an insurance policy to cover water issues. Beginning soon residential water customers will see a $2 dollar charge for the policy which can be removed should water customers call and request it to be removed. However if you remove the policy and have a leak on the customer side the customer will be liable. A different rate will be set for commercial customers.
Next on the agenda there was a public disclosure from the council since all have family or own property on roads which will be improved such as Orchard Blvd, Orchard Place and Ridge Street. The only exception was Rodney Kendall which doesn’t have any ties to the roads in the area.
The Summit street sale to Mr. Sisson (Sisson Log Homes) was made in a motion and approved to authorize Mayor Donna Whitener to complete the transaction of the small strip of land which will allow Sisson to move forward with his plans. The cost to Sisson will be $4000.
The winning bid for the landscape in the park was Tree City Nursery with labor and material at a total bid of $45,509. Other bidders were Second Nature Landscaping with a bid of $54,766.10 and Keith Sumner at $59,043. The work on the downtown Blue Ridge city park has begun and is expected to be concluded maybe as early as mid April of 2016. Dirt will be delivered soon to the park and 48 college students will be arriving March 14th to volunteer with the work in the park.
The City Council moved and approved to move council meetings back to one meeting per month. The meetings will be held the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 6 pm with special called meeting as needed.
The meeting concluded with citizen speak. Cesar Martinez of The Blue Ridge Business Association spoke and shared how the recent Fire & Ice Chili Cook off was the biggest one yet. All the downtown merchants had record days. He is looking forward to the 4th of July Parade and said this year will have more games and involvement from the Blue Ridge Fire Department. Next Lynn Brinks spoke about the upcoming first Trout Unlimited Festival and was happy with the planned work dates for the park.
No executive session was needed and thus the shortest meeting we can remember in some time – maybe ever.