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County employees get first pay raise in years

By Sherri Elington County workers recently received their first raise in six years. At least one citizen is opposed to this. At the meeting where the hike was announced, citizen Preston Thompson said that instead of raises for workers, taxpayers should be given back their one mill tax hike for 2013. ’You raised the millage rate by .8 and rounded it up to one to balance the budget,’ said Thompson. Commission chairman Jay Matthews explained the millage increase was a state-mandated rollback amount intended to keep the revenue neutral, with no increase or decrease in tax income. ’Relatively speaking, the county is in good financial shape,’ said Matthews. ‘The raise we gave was very small. A mill is not small. Your part would be a few dollars or cents. You wouldn’t even recognize it on your tax bill.’ The reason for the rollback increase is because the tax digest is going down due to declining property values. County manager Bob Zellner said the drop was 6% last year. ‘It’s probably going down again,’ said Thompson. ‘Does that mean you’re going to add another mill?’ Commissioner Van Baker said the workers deserved the raise. ’When I looked at how little our employees were making I was shocked,’ Baker said. ’We’ve got people working for a little over the minimum wage. We’re going to try to give every bit we can back to the taxpayers.’ The county also: ’¢ Voted to retain Main Street Advisors as its insurance broker. ’¢ Agreed to a contract with the Three Rivers Transportation Program for $9,421. This includes a pro-rated cost for a new van. The Three Rivers Commission will only bill Lamar County for what is actually spent. ’¢ Heard disaster sirens were installed and tested in Redbone and urged people to sign up for CodeRed automatic warnings via phone and email because the sirens do not reach all the county. ’¢ Decided to continue with pest control services on an as needed basis rather than accepting contracts from two out-oftown companies. A local company provides the service. ’¢ Approved its proposed share of the 2013-14 Towaliga Judicial Court budget, which runs along the state fiscal year. ’¢ Heard the fire station is close to completion. ’¢ Voted to give Barnesville a temporary easement for contamination testing wells along Johnstonville Road for its landfill reclamation project. The wells are required by the Environmental Protection Division. ’¢ Heard from Brenda Ross about road paving. She intended to chastise commissioners about not taking the lowest bid on the latest project but was told the county did wind up with the low bidder. She also registered a complaint about noise from Piedmont Green Power. ’¢ Called a closed session to discuss litigation.

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