Ball Ground to start Main St. Program, collect fire tax
by Michelle Babcock
November 15, 2013 11:58 PM | 1598 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Michelle Babcock

BALL GROUND — City Manager Eric Wilmarth announced to the city council Thursday that Ball Ground was given official notice to begin a Main Street Program in downtown.

“We received an official notice from the Department of Community Affairs last week that we’ve been selected for that startup program,” Wilmarth told the council at its meeting.

Wilmarth said each month, the council would be discussing the new program, and, at their next meeting, he would present the council with a list of steps and deadlines they would need to begin to obtain their certification.

Just by entering into the program, Wilmarth said, downtown business owners, merchants and property owners will be able to apply for loans at a discounted interest rate.

At the meeting, the city council also voted unanimously to continue the agreement between Ball Ground and the county for fire and emergency services.

Mayor Rick Roberts and Andrenia Stoner were absent.

Wilmarth said the only change with the agreement was instead of the county billing residents for fire tax, the city would now be collecting the tax for the county.

Wilmarth said besides that, the agreement was basically the same one the city has had with the county for a decade and a half.

“Currently, the fire tax is paid by our residents directly to Cherokee County,” Wilmarth explained. “It shows up on their county tax bill … beginning next year the county is requiring the city to collect that tax and then pay it to the county. So our residents’ county tax bill will go down by whatever millage rate the county has fire tax set at, and their city bill will go up by that same amount.”

Wilmarth said this means the city will pay the taxes, whether or not they collect them. This way, “the county knows that they’re whole,” he said.

“If we have 60 or 70 property owners that don’t pay their tax, we’re still paying that tax. We have to go after the property owner at some future point,” Wilmarth said.

At the city manager’s advice, the council voted to wait on considering three proposals that were on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.

Two of the three tabled proposals will go back out for bids, after Wilmarth advised the councilmembers of issues with the proposals.

One of the proposals was for the purchase and installation of a video surveillance system, to help curtail vandalism in the city’s newly renovated park.

Wilmarth said he recommended that council deny the proposal because the cost was “better than double” the budgeted amount, and recommended the city ask for more bids. The council voted unanimously to follow Wilmarth’s recommendation.

The council was also scheduled to consider four solid waste service proposals at its meeting, but because of inconsistent cost estimates in the proposals, Wilmarth suggested that the city deny all four proposals and go back out to bid, with a restriction that the bid proposals include a quoted price.

Wilmarth said when a committee reviewed the proposals, it couldn’t accurately evaluate the cost of each company and compare them, because of the varying formats that the estimates came in.

The council voted to deny the proposals and reopen bidding with the restriction that proposals include a price quote.

The third proposal, from LAI Engineering for the Valley Street radar certification, was tabled because Wilmarth had not received a written proposal by the meeting. Wilmarth did say that he got verbal confirmation earlier Thursday, but the council needed to wait until the written proposal was prepared before voting to accept it.

Also at the meeting, Frank Homiller, mayor pro tem, read a list of veterans in Ball Ground and a proclamation recognizing Veteran’s Day in Ball Ground on Nov. 11.

The city council also heard form resident David Brado, who asked the council to consider placing two additional stop signs at the intersection of Depot Street and Northridge Road.

“Currently there’s two signs at Depot, the cars go way too fast down Northridge, motorcycle, even school buses go too fast,” Brado said. “That’s the reason I would like to see the stop signs put in.”

Homiller said that Brado’s request would be up to the council’s discretion.

Wilmarth reminded council that Ball Ground’s annual parade of lights and Santa arrival would be Dec. 6, and the parade would begin at 6:30 p.m. He said that Highway 372 through downtown will be closed from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. for the parade.

The council went into executive session to discuss the potential acquisition of real estate, discussing three parcels. However, when council reconvened it did not take any action.

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