ELLIJAY, Ga. – During the county’s monthly work session today, information received over a zoom call was revealed as Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, along with Public Works Director Jim Smith spoke on it’s involvement with another Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) bridge project.
According to Smith, the state is discussing replacement of two bridges on Highway 52 East. The project would require a detour along state roads as they plan to go about the project. Smith went on to add that this could mean closure of as section of the highway for up to a year.
Through traffic would take alternative state roads. However, Smith noted that much of the local traffic would end up relying on Lower Cartecay Bridge for certain traffic and access routes. The project has been under discussion since it was condemned in April, 2017. It was later adopted into a state replacement program, and it was later given a priority over another local bridge.
Now, the bridge could see the beginning of construction to replace it over five years later. According to Chairman Paris, the date given by the state would be August, 2022.
In addition to this, Smith said that the state hopes to start its 52 East Bridges project in 2025.
Paris added later that Smith presented a strong argument that the DOT needs to move the start date on Lower Cartecay to a earlier date so that the bridge will definitely be completed and available for traffic as necessary for local traffic.
While the state made no official promises, Smith said representatives “didn’t disagree” with a need for an earlier start to Lower Cartecay.
This project has gone through several plans for replacement in the county as former Post Commissioner Travis Crouch debated for setting aside money in the annual budget to replace the bridge before the board found the state replacement program.
A massive reduction in local costs, the county applied and was accepted into the program, but has, until today, never heard of official start dates for the physical construction as the state has been acquiring right of ways and engineering plans for the project.
Paris said both he and Smith stressed the importance of having he bridge completed sooner rather than later, especially with another major bridge project nearby so close behind it on the timeline.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – “The year of Roads and Bridges” is what Gilmer Commissioner Chairman Charlie Paris said he wanted for the 2021 budget in order to improve Public Works. One comment among many as Gilmer’s BOC is still hammering out details for its coming year.
That comment is something that he has done many times over recent years during budget sessions as he has stated that he wanted to focus on getting departments up to par through that extra focus, whether it came through the Maintenance & Operations (M&O) Budget or through the Capital budget.
This year, Some of that extra focus for roads is coming through capital as the county is funding new equipment for the department through capital expenditures and funding almost all of their capital requests along with the county looking to increase Public Works employees pay. Though the Public Works request came for 5 percent, the county looked for ways to maybe increase this a little more, to potentially 8 percent.
On the revenue side, an increase is coming with changes to the weighed trash drop off. Now becoming 14 cents per pound, the rate is similar to surrounding counties, including neighboring Fannin County who Public Works Director Jim Smith says is 12 cents per pound. However, Smith also noted that his requested changes included the elimination of individual charges for items like sofas and appliances. Now, all of that type of construction and demolition trash will follow the 14 cents per pound rate. Additionally, passenger tire disposal went to $5 and larger truck tire disposal went to $12.
If adopted, these changes go into place January 1, 2021.
Another point of note in the budget came as Paris pointed out the county is currently repaying its TAN at around $400k. In previous years, the county has been excited that the TAN has been pushing further back for use. However, they have yet to completely negate the need for a TAN as was their hope. However, in recent years that TAN has been more akin to a $1.5 million repayment.
While Paris and Sandi Holden, Gilmer’s Financial Officer, attributed some of this difference to CARES ACT funding coming for capital expenses and the way it is handled, Paris said that this wouldn’t make the entire million dollar difference they have. Additionally, the county has received additional funds this year through sales tax in LOST and SPLOST for parts of the budget as well.
Paris said the county would know next year just how much this number has been affected by unusual circumstances as to how much it mirrors this year’s $400,000 or the previous year closer to $1.5 million.
The budget is coming up for adoption and Public Comments this week as the Board of Commissioners meet for the Public Hearing at 5:30 p.m. and the Regular Meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 10, 2020. The BOC did cancel their Wednesday Worksession.