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January 18, 2007 Issue

Plans for science center develop
Qualifying in Louisville mayor's race closes Jan. 18
Homestead exemption deadline nears
A Disney wish is granted

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Plans for science center develop

• Three months after all bids came in over budget, tech center holds prebid conference on next stage of process

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

In an attempt to find a contractor for the proposed Jefferson County Health Sciences Center, a prebid conference was held Jan. 10 at the Jefferson County Technical Center of Sandersville Technical College.

When the initial bid opening was held in October of last year, all bids were over budget.

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The conference was a means by which the architect for the project, Benjamin Carter of Carter Watkins Associates in Monroe, met with interested contractors to clarify specifications of the project.

Others present at the meeting included Jefferson County Administrator Paul Bryan, Jefferson County Commission Chairman William Rabun and the director of Jefferson County Technical Center, Matt Hodges.

“The bids came in too high, so we made some adjustments in the size of the building, a reduction, and a change in some of the materials, for example, wood instead of steel,” Bryan said.

Hodges and Bryan agreed the conference went well.

“It went good,” Hodges said. “It went very good. I’m just glad to have it (the project) back on track.

It sounds like things are moving in the right direction to getting a new bid. We’re just very optimistic at this point.”

One situation that still needs finalization is transfer of ownership from the state to the county.

A bill for the state to deed the land to the county is before the General Assembly.

The bid opening is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Jefferson County Commission Office. A bid accepted on that date will be good for 60 days.

If the contractor has not begun work within that time frame, the bid is voided.

Although, no one at the conference knew the status of the bill, Bryan and Hodges seemed confident the bill would be approved within the 60-day limit.

“What we do in most situations in any kind of deed transaction, instead of buying any property we lease it,” Hodges said.

“Technically, Jefferson County will just be leasing the land for 20 years. After that, the property reverts back to the state of Georgia. They (the county) donated the land. In order to get this facility built we had to put it on property in the county. In order to get the grant (for the building), we had to go through Jefferson County.”



Qualifying in Louisville mayor's race closes Jan. 18

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

The city of Louisville will hold qualifications this week for those wishing to run for the mayoral seat.

The late Byron Burt served as the city’s mayor beginning in 2002 and was re-elected in 2004. Burt also served on the Louisville City Council from 1991 until 2001. He suffered from what doctors believed to be a heart attack in October.

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During his time as mayor, Burt was at the helm of many projects involving the Louisville Airport including the runway extension, planning and construction of the terminal building and parallel taxiways. Before his death, he was involved with a city wastewater project, Louisville City Administrator Don Rhodes said.

“Everyone was pleased with him,” Rhodes said. “I think he was a wonderful mayor and I enjoyed working with him. It has been a real pleasure.

I am really going to miss him; we talked just about every day.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Rickey Sapp is currently filling in the position as interim mayor.

The qualification period for the mayor position opened Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 8:30 a.m. and closes Thursday, Jan. 18 at 4:30 p.m. The qualifying fee is $50. Anyone wishing to qualify must file a notice of candidacy in the office of the city clerk at city hall.

The term of office will begin this year and end Dec. 31, 2009.

The city of Louisville will hold a special election on Tuesday, March 20, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at Louisville City Hall.

The last day a person may register and be eligible to vote in the special election is Feb. 19.



Homestead exemption deadline nears

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Besides increasing the number of qualifying exemptions from five to 12, the deadline for receiving applications has been changed to March 1. Previously, the deadline was June 1.

“You can file year round,” said Jenny Gordy, tax commissioner for Jefferson County. “It’s just that the cut off for the current year is March 1.” Gordy said being able to file year round is new, too, although filing after March 1 will apply to the following year. To be eligible for any of the exemptions, an individual must own the property and live in the residence.

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Gordy pointed out that some of the new exemptions may be misunderstood by taxpayers.

For example, she said, the new one for senior citizens applies to state tax only and may not even amount to $10.

“If you take a $100,000 house,” Gordy said, “we tax on 40 percent value. So that’s $40,000. Suppose the elderly person already has the standard homestead exemption, which everyone who owns the property and lives in the home can receive.

“The standard homestead exemption in Jefferson County is $2,000 of value before taxes are calculated. Then the state gives the $8,000 of value off for the homeowner’s tax relief grant. So now we’re down to $30,000 of taxable value that’s left. Now you’re going to tax that value at the current millage rate, which is 26.12.”

Gordy explained the millage rate is made up of a quarter of a mill, which is .25 for the state; the county is 11.87; the school system is 13.25 and economic development is .75, or three-quarters of a mill.

“To figure your taxes on that value we have left,” she said, “those four total 26.12, which is what you’re going to multiply your taxable value by to get your tax amount on the property. To figure that out, you would multiply .02612, because the mill is based on 1,000.

“For every $1,000 of taxable value, it generates $26.12 of taxes. So when you multiply that $30,000 of value times the mill rate, you get that person’s tax bill.”

The total tax bill in this example on that person’s property is $783.60, she said.

“If you wanted to know what that person’s tax bill is for each levying authority, you could break that down and multiply the value by the separate amounts,” she said.

On the $30,000 taxable value of the $100,000 property, the state tax is .00025, according to the commissioner. “So the state tax is only $7.50,” Gordy said, adding that a person reading that particular exemption may believe a lot of money is involved.

“This is just one example of how some of the exemptions may confuse a taxpayer,” she said.

“We have the taxpayers brochure available to all taxpayers in the county,” Gordy said. “They’re available in the commissioners office, tax commissioners office and tax assessors office. They’re also mailed out to all new property owners.”

Anyone with questions about any of the new exemptions should call the tax commissioner’s office at 625-7736 or visit the office at the county courthouse in Louisville.



A Disney wish is granted

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

He has a shy smile that lights up the room. When he dips his head and looks you in the eye, you know you have his full attention.

Ten-year-old Ethan Rachels is just like any other kid. As the youngest of three children and the only son, he’s spoiled not only by his parents but by his older sisters. His family lavishes attention on the youngster and he thrives on it.

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A special needs child, Ethan was born with spina bifida, a condition where part of the spinal cord is outside the spinal column. So far, Ethan has had 17 major surgeries. As he grows, his mother explained, his doctors have to operate to untangle nerves in his spine.

This past Thanksgiving, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Ethan’s wish to go to Disney World in Florida. He, his parents Heidi and Charles, and his two sisters, Emily, 18, and Charly, 12, spent a week at a resort owned by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“Having a child with special needs, vacations are few and far between,” his mother said. “These people provided everything. They even provided the gas to drive down there.”

“We stayed at Give Kids the World in Kissimmee, Fla.,” Heidi said. The resort houses 102 cottages so the family was together and had their privacy.

One thing all three children agreed on was the ice cream parlor. From 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., every day, an ice cream shop on the Kissimmee site was open. The ice cream was free.

“He could eat ice cream anytime he wanted,” Heidi said. All three children’s eyes grew wide along with their smiles as they nodded at the memory.

“Two hundred people work there,” Charles said, adding it takes an additional 300 people who volunteer.

At Disney World, Ethan received a baseball style hat with a picture of the genii from Aladdin on it.

“Only Make-A-Wish kids get these hats,” Heidi said. Everywhere he went in the park, the hat identified Ethan as a Make-A-Wish child. Everything he wanted to do was free.

“These people were awesome to him,” Heidi said. Ethan went to several shows and met the casts afterward. He said his favorite part was meeting Lumiere, a character from Beauty and the Beast.

“Christmas comes every Thursday,” Charles said. “They make it snow.”

“We all got presents, too,” Emily said.

Back at home in Wadley, Ethan is just like any other fifth-grader. His favorite thing about school, he attends Thomas Jefferson Academy in Louisville, is his teacher, Amber Dowdy.

He likes watching football games and adores his horse, D. And just like any only son with two older sisters, he delights in being the center of attention and will readily admit they, like his parents, spoil him.




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