County gives final go-ahead on sales tax vote
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Grady County commissioners have completed their negotiations with the cities of Cairo and Whigham and voted unanimously to issue a call for a countywide referendum on a proposed new Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax on May 18, 2020.
It will be the voters who have the final say, but the question of whether or not to levy a new, additional one percent sales tax on eligible sales in Grady County will be placed on the ballot later this year.
If approved, the total sales tax in Grady County would rise to eight percent, up from seven percent currently. All of the proceeds of this new tax can only be spent on transportation related projects.
An intergovernmental agreement between the county and two cities had previously been approved. With the passage of the referendum Tuesday night, the matter will be transmitted to Grady County Election Superintendent Denise Maddox who will have the referendum included on the May 18 primary election ballot and will issue a call for election.
The collection of the new tax, if approved, would begin on Sept. 1, 2020 and would cease on Aug. 31, 2025.
Approximately $15 million would be generated over the life of the tax and the proceeds would be divided between the three local governments based on population: Grady County – 59.7 percent; Cairo – 38.7 percent and Whigham – 1.9 percent.
In other business Tuesday night, the board:
• Accepted the recommendation of Grady County State Court Judge Joshua C. Bell to enter into a new agreement for probation services from Judicial Alternatives of Georgia. The contract is similar to the current one with the exception of some increased fees paid by probationers. There is no additional cost to the county, according to the county administrator.
• Approved payment of an additional $14,500 to The Scruggs Company for a change order on the Old 179 North Reclamation project. Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, said that this wraps up this project.
• Accepted the bid of $32 per ton for up to 1,200 tons of #5 granite for road stock for the county road department. Stanley Elkins, road superintendent, recommended accepting the $32 per ton bid from The Scruggs Company, but noted the county would have to haul the rock. Other bids of $38.50 per ton from Cal-Mart Inc. and $52.50 per ton from Southern Concrete included delivery. Elkins suggested taking the lower price because the county can haul the rock and it would only have to pay for the rock as needed rather than in a lump sum from the other two vendors.
• Accepted the bid of $25,982 for an off-lease four wheel drive tractor from South Georgia Tractor Company to replace an older tractor that is no longer operational. South Georgia Tractor also bid $29,643 on a brand new tractor, but the board accepted Elkins’ recommendation to purchase the used tractor since it carries the same warranty as the new tractor. The tractor to be purchased has 160 hours of use. The county also received a bid of $30,491 from Ag Pro for a similar tractor.
‰Approved a $250 sponsorship of the upcoming Thomas University’s Casino Night fundraiser. Proceeds of the event go toward scholarships for Grady County students attending TU.
• Heard concerns raised by Richard Jordan, a local resident, regarding a contract between the county and administrator Johnson’s firm. The contract, approved earlier this year, is structured in such a way that Johnson is an independent contractor serving in the capacity of the county administrator. Johnson said he requested the arrangement to save the county money and to benefit him personally on taxes. Jordan questioned the legality of the arrangement under Internal Revenue Service guidelines. Jordan also questioned why the contract had not been drafted or reviewed by county attorney Gabe Ridley. Lastly, Jordan questioned why Johnson was paid for both January and February in January. Commissioners did not respond to Jordan’s comments.
• Met behind closed doors to discuss a personnel issue as well as a real estate matter with Ridley. No action was taken as a result of the closed session.