New carpet among city’s larger expenses associated with St. Patrick’s Day visit
The Savannah Morning News reports that the city of Savannah spent less than $5,000 preparing for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The paper reports that the city released a statement Monday identifying $4,513 in expenses. They included a structural assessment of the second-floor balcony of City Hall, at a cost of $1,000, and the purchase and installation of new red carpet in the mayor’s conference room and balcony for $2,900.
Another city denounces broadband legislation
The Johns Creek City Council is objecting to proposed state legislation that it says would erode local governments’ attempts to manage and control what goes on their road rights of way. The council passed a resolution opposing Senate Bill 426, the Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development Act, patch.com is reporting. The bill would allow companies to install utility poles and wireless facilities in city-owned rights of way as “a matter of right,” the city says. “The legislation does not strike an appropriate balance between the need for deployment of wireless broadband infrastructure and the need for local governments to effectively manage the aesthetics of its own right-of-way,” the council resolution states. Other north Fulton County cities, including Alpharetta, Milton, Roswell and Sandy Springs, also are on record opposing the bill, patch.com reports. The Georgia Municipal Association also opposes the bill, which supporters say would expedite the deployment of 5G technology in densely populated urban and metro areas through a streamlined permitting process for the installation of small cell antennas and new poles in the public rights of way.
Macon-Bibb officials still pushing for sales tax option
With the 2018 General Assembly session set to end March 29, Macon-Bibb County commissioners are still pleading with lawmakers to throw them a financial lifeline, macon.com is reporting. The financially strapped County Commission is asking lawmakers to approve legislation that would allow the commission to ask local voters to support a 1 percent Other Local Option Sales Tax, or OLOST. Without this new source of revenue, the commission says, property taxes may have to be raised and government services reduced. The 1 percent tax increase would raise about $26 million, according to estimates. Under current state law, it would have to be used for an equivalent rollback in property taxes, although the law could be changed on that, macon.com reports. Commissioners say that the government’s financial problems are in part due to government consolidation in 2014, reducing the county budget by $23 million. The county is now trending toward a fourth straight year of having to draw millions of dollars out of its savings. Last week, the county’s financial adviser said property taxes might need to go up 5 mills to cover expenses in the upcoming fiscal year. Property owners were hit with a 3-mill bump in 2017.
Legislature pays recognition to Gwinnett’s first minority mayors
State lawmakers paused last week to recognize Gwinnett County’s first minority mayors. Norcross Mayor Craig Newton, who is black, and Loganville Mayor Rey Martinez, who is Hispanic, posed for pictures with House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, in a brief recognition ceremony, The Gwinnett Daily Post reports. Both men were elected mayor in 2017. Minorities are the majority in Gwinnett, long considered one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties.
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