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The Local Agenda: Commission OKs Hall school system millage rate
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Hall County’s Board of Commissioners had a specially called meeting Thursday morning to approve the Hall County Board of Education’s millage rate.

The school board is the rolling up the millage rate from 17.67 mills to 18.49. Despite the increase, the school board’s budget is shrinking.

The higher millage rate is not considered a tax increase because it doesn’t cause an increase in revenue for the board; it only allows them to capture some of the revenue lost when property values declined in the county.

The commission’s vote on the tax largely seems insignificant because it has no authority to change the rate the school board approves.

Still, since the commission has to actually levy the tax and send the bills to property owners, Thursday’s vote was a necessary procedure, according to Georgia law.

And before becoming one of four who voted in favor of the tax increase (Commissioner Ashley Bell was absent), Commissioner Craig Lutz made sure to note that he had no power to change the school board’s tax rate decision.

“I’ll be voting for it as mandated by the Attorney General,” Lutz said.

Library copes with weekend cutbacks
Starting this past Saturday, the Hall County’s Library System closed completely on weekends.

It also cut hours for the second year in a row after its overall budget shrank by another $160,000 this year, despite a $24,000 increase in funding from the county government, which funds about 80 percent of the system. This was all while health insurance costs continued to rise.

Of course, while they cut hours, the system opened the North Hall Community and Technology Center on Nopone Road at the beginning of July.

At Thursday’s commission meeting, Lutz also asked county staff to ensure that members of the library board have their contact information listed on the county library system’s website.

The appointed board is ultimately responsible for how the money in the library system is spent, though other arms of government determine how much money they have to spend.

Lutz said the commissioners have gotten a lot of response from constituents about the changes.

He wants to make sure those concerns get to the right place.

Gainesville City Council to vote today on excise tax
Gainesville City Council will vote today on an intergovernmental agreement with other local governments that will allow them to collect a 2 percent sales tax from local manufacturers on their energy use.

The tax was eliminated by state lawmakers earlier this year who were seeking ways to attract more industry to the state.

If the local governments charge the excise tax, manufacturers will still stop paying the 4 percent sales tax on their energy use that once went to the state.

They will also still pay the 1 percent sales tax for local education initiatives.

Council also votes on helicopter hangar lease
Today, the Gainesville City Council will vote on an agreement that ensures a semi-permanent presence of the Georgia State Patrol’s aviation division in Gainesville.

The council will approve a lease of a hangar at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport to the Georgia State Patrol for five years.

Already, the state patrol has been operating out of the hangar on a month-to-month lease; if you remember the tragedy that occurred earlier this summer on Lake Lanier that killed two boys from Buford and involved an allegedly drunk boater, the agency’s helicopter was the first to arrive on scene.

Its permanent location near the lake could mean a lot for other responses to lake incidents

Ashley Fielding covers government issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her:
afielding@gainesvilletimes.com, facebook.com/ashleylfielding, @GtimesPolitics

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