By Linton Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
A divided Elbert County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to discontinue the county’s funding of the activities of the Development Authority of Elbert County, Elberton and Bowman. Commission Chairman Lee Vaughn said the decision will take effect immediately and until further notice.
The vote was 3-2 in favor of Commissioner Chris Alexander’s motion to defund the Development Authority, with Commissioner Casey Freeman, who seconded the motion, voting yes and Commissioners Kenneth Ashworth and Freddie Jones voting no. Chairman Vaughn joined Alexander and Freeman to break the tie. Commissioner Horace Harper was not present for Monday’s meeting.
The county government has solely funded the Development Authority’s $130,000 annual budget for the better part of a year after the Elberton and Bowman city councils discontinued funding their share. Alexander, Freeman and Vaughn each expressed a sentiment for uniting with the cities on the economic development issue.According to Freeman, “There are a lot of reasons, I think, for this. There’s a lot of history behind it. There’s a lot of negativism that’s behind some of this, and I think the Board of Commissioners needs to work toward solving this problem because it’s going to impact this community. It’s going to impact us economically, and I think that we need to work on this. I think that we need to talk to the economic development board, and we need to find out what they’re doing and how they’re going to help us with some of these problems. These are the comments that I keep hearing from a lot of people, not only in the 2nd District but all over the county.”
In other business Monday, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a contract with 365 Total Marketing to create a central branding campaign for Elbert County, Elberton and Bowman to promote tourism and economic development. Under the contract, the county and Elberton will each pay $25,000, and Georgia’s State Parks will pay $5,000 toward the campaign.
Elbert County Chamber of Commerce President Leslie Friedman spoke on behalf of the 365 Total Marketing plan. “Essentially, their goal is to rebrand an entire area and to help us market that area, so that everything that we’re saying to tourism, to economic development, anyone looking to come in this area, or anyone in this area looking to grow, it’s all the same unified message.”
County Administrator Bob Thomas said the county’s share of the contract will be paid from reserve funds.
The commissioners also voted 3-1, with Ashworth dissenting, to dedicate all revenue collected by the county from a proposed special purpose local option sales tax for road improvements to resurfacing and patching existing roads – if the tax is approved by the voters on March 19. Any new road construction would come from state grant funds.
Additionally, the board voted to spend $10,000 on four new fire hydrants to be placed on the Athens Highway as part of the City of Elberton’s new water line to Madison County and to approve a zoning request for 31 acres on Ware Drive from agricultural to industrial for the placement of an asphalt plant on the property to complement an existing rock crushing operation.
The commissioners also voted to reappoint Allen Nicas to the Elbert County Library Board, Monty Dixon, Jeff Dickerson and Glenn Parham to the Fire Board and Butch Smith to the Board of Assessors.