Cherokee delegation to conduct town hall
by Megan Thornton
December 06, 2012 12:00 AM | 1913 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cherokee County legislative delegation is set to meet with several local elected officials and conduct a town hall meeting this evening to hear from constituents.

Both meetings will take place at the Cherokee County Administration Building at 1130 Bluffs Parkway.

While some local elected officials have a lot to say to the legislators, many of the local officials have chosen to opt out of this year’s meeting.

Expected to attend from the delegation are Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Hickory Flat), Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs), Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), Rep.-elect Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock), Rep.-elect Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) and Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell).

Cherokee County Commissioners are first on today’s agenda and will meet with legislative officials from 2:30 to 3 p.m.

Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said the commission has about six major topics to present to the delegation.

Some of the points have been addressed before, including the issue of federal and state unfunded mandates, but some are new challenges the commission is facing, Ahrens said.

The other topics include asking the delegation to change the state code so neither a county or city could guarantee a private industry bond, increasing economic development incentives and re-examining the process of filing certificates of need.

Ahrens referred to WellStar Kennestone Hospital’s plan to pursue a surgery center in the Towne Lake area.

“The certificate of need process can take a couple of years and a lot of money,” Ahrens said, noting that businesses end up deciding not to build, as was the case with WellStar, or go somewhere else. “We’re heading into some big-time needs or broadened medical and health services facilities.”

Finally, the commission will address editing the enabling legislation for the Homestead Option Sales Tax, the 1 percent sales tax that failed on the Nov. 6 ballot. Ahrens said he had discussed changing the existing legislation to “clean it up” and remove “complex language” with state Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock).

But with Rogers saying Wednesday was his last day after abruptly resigning Tuesday, the HOST language change is yet to be determined.

Cherokee County Board of Education Chairwoman-elect Janet Read sent a copy of her board’s tentative 2013 Legislative Program via email that will be up for a final vote at tonight’s school board meeting, but informed legislators neither she nor outgoing Board Chairman Mike Chapman would be able to meet with the delegation.

The cities of Ball Ground and Canton are not scheduled to meet with the legislators, with officials in each city confirming neither will have representatives in attendance.

Cherokee County Board of Elections does not plan to attend either. Chairman Randy Gravely said the board originally planned to meet with legislators to ask their help in some changes to their by-laws, but found out the board itself can vote and make the changes, so they have no need to meet with the delegation.

The city of Holly Springs, scheduled to meet from 3 to 3:20 p.m., will be represented by City Manager Rob Logan. Logan said he will present two measures voted on by the city council Monday night.

In a 3-2 vote, with councilmembers Mike Zenchuk and Kyle Whitaker opposing, the council voted to move from at-large elections to a ward system.

In conjunction with that vote, the council also voted to move Karen Barnett’s Post 4 seat to a different election cycle.

Logan said moving the post to the mid-term election cycle would split the mayor and council seats evenly every two years, with the mayor and council members elected in one cycle and the three other council seats elected in the next cycle.

However, the delegation has historically only considered matters passed via unanimous vote by the governing body requesting the legislation.

The same dilemma affects the city of Woodstock, whose officials decided not to meet with the local delegation today as they did not unanimously approve either of two measures voted on at last Monday’s meeting.

City Manager Jeff Moon said his office notified the legislators Tuesday to cancel the city’s time slot between 4:20 and 4:40 p.m.

“We’re not going to waste their time,” Moon said. “We will wait and see if they change their by-laws.”

The city of Waleska, slated to meet with the delegation from 3:20 to 3:40 p.m., will have a large representation during its time slot with Mayor Doris Jones and four council members planning to attend.

City Clerk Aimee Abernathy said the main point the city will address regards campaign disclosures and fines council members are facing for late reports through the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

Abernathy said just about every council member continues to be fined despite filing the appropriate forms.

From 3:40 to 4 p.m., Nelson council members Duane Cronic and Edith Portillo will address the delegation about changes to the city’s charter that created a strong council/weak mayor form of government, City Manager Brandy Edwards said.

Following the meetings, the delegation will conduct a town hall meeting for all Cherokee County citizens at 6:30 p.m. to hear from constituents about what they would like the General Assembly to address in the upcoming 2013 legislative session.
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Georgia Voter
December 06, 2012
If Sean Jerguson has resigned his seat by tonight, does that mean he won't be at the meeting?
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