Paris addresses COVID-19 vaccine and county updates

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Lamar Paris

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris ran an efficient meeting and covered several topics during the March 2021 meeting.

He reported that over 500 vaccine doses were administered at the last mass vaccine event but wasn’t sure if another mass vaccine day would occur. Also, Union County’s supply went from the Moderna to Pfizer vaccine.  Over 7,000 first doses and 5,000 second doses have been given in Union County. Georgia opened the vaccine up to everyone 16 and older on Thursday.

A new restroom is coming to Meeks Park, and TVA is funding approximately $25,000 for the project. It is located next to the intended location for an amphitheater.

Union’s economy is still performing well despite the pandemic. Paris stated that all new restaurants appear to be full almost every night.

The county entered into an agreement with the Georgia Forestry Commission allowing for Union County Fire Department to use surplus Forestry equipment when fighting fires. It’s a five-year agreement that needed to be updated due to a change of leadership. Administrative fees are $100 per transaction for non-title property and $200 per transaction for titled property.

A bank account was opened with United Community Bank for SPLOST 5 which is scheduled to kick in either late April or early May.

Two grants were accepted from the Accountability Courts Supplemental State Funds for Enotah Mental Health Court in the amounts of $29,280 and $6,470.

The County meeting in April was rescheduled for Tuesday, April 20 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse.

Board of Elections Changes

Elizabeth “Libby” Stevens became the Board of Elections Chair for a term of February 1, 2021, to December 31, 2024. She was already serving on the board and Commissioner Paris picked her to keep some normalcy on the board with all the election issues currently going on in the state.

James Sterling Fitzgerald will be taking her spot on the board for the term of January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2023.

Carl Foutz was also appointed to the Board of Elections from January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2022. He is replacing Bill Parker.

Democrats appoint two members, and Republicans appoint two members. The Commission appoints the chairman.

Union County lowers tax increase to 17 percent

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lowers tax increase

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – In a called meeting, Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris approved dropping the tax increase from 19.98 percent to 17 percent.

“After hearing from constituents at the three public hearings, Union County has decided to reduce the proposed property tax increase to 17%. The school portion of your bill is about two-thirds of the total tax bill meaning that even with the increase from the county, your actual out of pocket property tax increase should only be about 5.8% of your total property tax bill,” Paris explained.

Millage Rate Resolution

The county side of the millage rate is now set at 7.178 mills, not the 7.361 mills that was approved in the August 27 called meeting.

The commissioner also detailed all the reasons behind the proposed increase.

  1.  “We have mostly been in the top three lowest mil rates in Georgia out of 159 counties since I have been in office.  In trying to help the public with low taxes and provide the best facilities and services possible, this very low rate is just not sustainable any longer.
  2. Increase of salaries for Sheriff and Jail deputies in order to maintain staff and not lose them to other counties.
  3. In order to keep property taxes low, we have had to utilize the reserve funds to help balance the budget and need to replenish them.
  4. Our medical insurance rates have increased each year with 2018 increasing $750,000 which we are still trying to make up for and are going up $100,000 next year.
  5. We are being required to have all property reevaluated in the county by next year and the cost is $380,000.
  6. Our commitment to a new gun range that has been in the works for nearly 5 years will be approximately $500,000 and it is too late to change. Thanks to the sheriff, 75% will be paid by grant funding.
  7. The State of Georgia has cut its budget 15% which is estimated to impact the county library, drug court, health dept by approximately $70,000.
  8. Vehicle maintenance and equipment repairs are up $40,000.
  9. Paving (LMIG Funds) from the State DOT will be decreased $104,000.
  10. While the county is being reimbursed for some of the COVID-19 funds, we have no idea what our cost and expense will be in 2021. We are just holding our breath with the huge amount of new infection we are now experiencing in the county and not sure what the future holds.

Thanks for your understanding as we are all working very hard to keep our budget as low as possible and we will all continue that process.  Thank you!!”

The board of education maintained it’s millage rate at 11.74 mills, which was lower than the rollback rate.

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