County approves SPLOST agreement
Published 7:47 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2017
The Troup County Board of Commissioners approved the intergovernmental agreement for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax between the county, the city of LaGrange, the city of West Point and the city of Hogansville.
The agreement clearly states how much money will go to each of the cities and the county if voters approve the SPLOST on November 7. If approved, the special tax will charge an additional one percent sales tax within the county for six years. The estimated $70 million that will be brought in during that time will go toward capital improvement projects within the cities and county.
“SPLOST is a community effort with the citizens of Troup County deciding that they are going to impose a tax to use for special projects that affect each of our municipal governments and our county-wide (projects),” County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews said.
Projects included in this SPLOST will range from the usual road and park improvements to public safety needs. A new fire department in the county, which will cost an estimated $8,204,000, renovations to the LaGrange Police Department, which will come out of the $4 million will be included.
The county and cities are not allowed to use SPLOST funds for salaries or bonuses for employees, and are confined to improvements that will increase or maintain value of government property.
Representatives from Hogansville, LaGrange and West Point all attended the meeting where the county approved the agreement. Dale Jackson and Curtis Brown will serve as co-chairs of SPLOST through the election.
Fenwick Farms Subdivision
During that meeting, the commissioners also approved a preliminary design for Fenwick Farms Subdivision on Bartley Road. The 101.67-acre subdivision will include 44 lots for homes, and the development required the commission’s review, due to a road that will be accepted as a county road, upon the subdivision’s completion.
“They do have two access points proposed on Bartley Road, and the roads end with a cul-de-sac,” County Planner Tracie Hadaway said. “It will be Fenwick Farms Drive and Fenwick Manor Drive.”
Several commissioners expressed relief that the plan for the property only shows 44 lots instead of the maximum number of 49. Staff reported that concerns regarding the watershed on the property had been mostly resolved at the time of the meeting, and changes affecting the watershed are now only awaiting official approval. The board of zoning will review the details of the development on August 10.
Sign ordinance revisions
The commission voted to table the vote on the sign ordinance due to concerns about clarity in a passage regarding window signs that commissioners worried could be interpreted to include window films or tinting that are sometimes used to decrease sun exposure inside businesses.
The commission has reviewed the revisions over the course of several work sessions. Some of the revisions were necessary to ensure that the county sign ordinance will comply with updated state laws and court rulings, while other updates will ensure that signage in the county is regulated similarly to signage in surrounding cities and counties.
“(One of) the highlights to some of the major changes that we’ve proposed is to reduce the freestanding poles from 35 feet to 25 feet, and the sign base from 200 square feet to 100 square feet,” Hadaway said. “We did compare our ordinance with that of the municipalities within Troup County and jurisdictions in the surrounding area. The reduction in size is more consistent with the municipalities and the surrounding area, although it is still somewhat larger.”
Existing signage would be grandfathered into the policy, so only new signage would have to seek approval under the updated ordinance. Temporary signage will also be more heavily regulated under the updated ordinance. The sign ordinance should be voted on during the next commission meeting since the moratorium on new signage will end on Aug. 21.
Finally, the board of commissioners voted to allow building officials and code enforcement officers the ability to write citations for ordinance violations.
“This is the final step in combining code enforcement and building inspectors and giving everybody in that department the power to be able to write a citation for violations of the county code,” Senior Building Official Jay Anderson said.
Previously, if a building inspector noted an ordinance violation, the inspector would need to report the violation to a code enforcement officer or marshal who would then need to drive out to the location in order to issue the citation. Anderson expressed a hope that officially combining the duties of the two positions will make it possible for the department to run more efficiently.
“I am 100 percent in favor of it because these people are out there all the time, and why should they have to stay there and then go back and forth to get someone else (to write a citation),” said Connie Stoppard, a citizen who spoke during the meeting. “Anything that will speed up the process and save money in the long run (is good).”
Several commissioners requested interpersonal or customer service training for the employees who will be issuing the citations. Building inspectors will only have the power to issue citations for ordinance violations, not laws.
The commissioners also approved a budget neutral budget amendment, recognized Solicitor General Markette Baker on a recent award and approved a beer and wine license for LaGrange Citgo on 2586 Upper Big Springs Road during the meeting. The meeting agenda can be found at troupcountyga.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=1316&Inline=True.
The Troup County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 9 a.m.