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Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Monday, February 20, 2023 – 4:00 p.m. - CHANGE OF MEETING LOCATION
Pike County Courthouse, Courtroom 2
16001 Barnesville Street, Zebulon, GA

Present: Chairman Briar Johnson, County Clerk Angela Blount, County Manager Brandon Rogers, Commissioner Tim Guy, Commissioner Tim Daniel, County Attorney Rob Morton. Commissioner James Jenkins not able to attend. Members of the Industrial/Economic Authority in attendance: Sonny Gwyn, Stuart Essary, Kell Brannon, Bryan Oglesby.

1. CALL TO ORDER ..... Chairman J. Briar Johnson

2. INVOCATION ..... Silent Invocation

3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE ..... Chairman J. Briar Johnson

4. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA - (O.C.G A. § 50-14-1 (e) (1))

Brandon Rogers asked to add FEMA representatives to the agenda. Motion to add item so the FEMA Reps can speak. Approved 4-0.


a. Discussion with FEMA About Disaster Assistance

Catherine Anderson from FEMA is a liaison for elected officials. She met with EMA Director Jim Totten. Disaster Assistance Team Members have been going out since February 15. Two crews of eight. One for homes and the other for community, faith based, and private sectors. There were 139 interactions, 342 homes visited, 28 faith-based organizations, and 10 businesses. Estimated 1,370 contacts through this.

Brian Miller from FEMA is also here. 64 households are registered. Most from Williamson. 50 reported no damages in the self-assessment. High percentage of individuals who are insured. Normally home insurance takes care of tornado damage. If it doesn’t, then FEMA may be able to assist. They need the denial and then will send out an assessor. Well, septic tanks, private bridge, FEMA can assist. A lot of people have received letters already. But if not satisfied with the denial, there is an appeal process with FEMA.

SBA partners with FEMA. Storm victims need to fill out SBA paperwork as well as FEMA paperwork. Click on these links to read the following:
"Update on the Spalding County Tornado Clean Up; Pike County Is Declared to Be Part of the Disaster Declaration" and
"Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) Announces Disaster Assistance Available for Pike County "

b. Discussion with the Pike County Industrial Development Authority regarding funding.

Bryan Oglesby. Advised that it is the Economic Development Authority rather than just Industrial Development Authority (IDA). As of right now, the number one county gets it from commercial. We are 149 in the state because it’s coming from residents in the county. Unless we do something to recruit businesses that generate sales tax, we’ll have problems paving roads, dealing with potholes, needs for law enforcement and the schools, etc. We have gone for over a year without an executive director. The county manager has been serving. We have got to come up with a way to fund the authority now and in the future. Upson County has a several million dollar budget, and we’re working from just $60,000. We’re behind other counties surrounding us.

Briar Johnson. I thought Meredith was going to be our Director to help with this. Answer: She is full-time for the Chamber and doesn’t have time for additional duties. We need to recruit someone for this and has networking capabilities. Possibly talk to business owners who live her but work elsewhere to see if we can move them here. We need someone who can sell lots and bring in businesses in here. Discussion that we need someone to work for us. Businesses that have come into the business park have come to us. We need a recruiter.

Tim Daniel. We took that position and moved it under us, but we still have to believe in that position. Answer: Bryan Oglesby said that the Economic Development Authority needs to be separate from the Commission because government cannot offer these incentives by law. We're talking about someone who is making as much or more money than the county manager. Sometimes what they do won’t come to fruition for a year or even two years. As the county continues to grow, you’re going to have someone to help with businesses. We were talking about dedicating a 1/4 mill or about $160,000. Then you don’t have to address the money as it rolls over.

CM Brandon Rogers. Up to a mill can be dedicated by the Board. It can only be economic development.

Rob Morton. State has a specific allowance for up to a mill. You can do it as a specific number or up to a mill or a tax district like the fire tax that we no longer have. It can be done by resolution that clarifies the number or percentage during the budgetary process.

Bryan Oglesby: The budget was a lot higher when Hanson was in here. Thinks it was $160,00 or $170,000 back then. Morton said it changed a couple of times. It may have been that high at one time. ¼ mill.

Tim Guy. Can this be a consultant? Answer: No. Need someone who is working. Conflict of interest with doing this on a commission. As the county grows, the more the number will grow. Then we can find a person who wants to do this. Recruiting, going to the Capitol, etc. Need to have enough compensation to do this job. Department 74. Executive Directors have 2 masters. Economic Development answers to the Economic Development Authority as well as the Commission.

Briar Johnson. Recognize what you have and what you are and don’t try to be something else. Do we all agree that we need to get this person to go out and recruit these businesses? Bryan Oglesby: A lot of private property that we can market as well as bringing in tourism. There is a lot more than just bringing in business. We helped Tencate get their gas pipeline. There’s a lot for expanding businesses that are already here. Ginny was good at this.

Sonny Gwyn. We have to have a special person to do this. We have to be what we are. Bryan Oglesby. We do well with skilled labor businesses with 20 or 30 plus employees. Briar Johnson. Do we all agree that we need this person. Yes. Next step. How to fund it?

Tim Daniel. Not opposed to a ¼ mill. Briar Johnson. Is a ¼ mill enough? Bryan Oglesby. Yes. For now. If we buy land, no, but it would help. ¼ mill would be about $100 a house. Looking in the $75,000 range with benefits and possibly a car to drive. Close to $100,000 including benefits. But it could bring someone in from our area. K&K is bringing in like $60,000 to $70,000 in sales tax each month. The sales tax is where it’s at. We are badly need in retail shops. This job can grow a lot of different angles on this. It's time to try to find marketing for the county instead of being reactive to this growth.

Meredith would like to speak. Motion to allow Meredith to speak. Approved 4-0. When looking for someone, spend a hefty amount to send them elsewhere for shows, etc. to travel for the county and network. After Stephen Brentlinger left, I recognized the need for someone. I volunteered to help with the Chamber as the feel good marketing part of this where the Economic Development part is in the details. Special projects was what Stephen was doing. She is good with the parade, etc. and could add the most value on this. The Chamber is here to help how we can.

Jason Proctor. Asked about current finances. Answer: $360,000 in the bank. Sold 2 lots. Used the lots for collateral for the gas line.

Bryan Oglesby. The Business Park was donated to us from the Thomaston Mills. Grants paid for the roads in this. A lot of good businesses are in there. We can afford to sit on this and wait for the right companies to come in. A concrete plant is located in there. The pallet company is relocating. Zane Lee. Sydney Lee Welding. We are getting some good businesses. Most are local. It is filling up with the right clients. We need more property. They are looking at another tract with possibilities for offices, etc. out in 341 with the Industrial Corridor. That park went pretty quick. We have some good opportunities coming.

[Note from the Editor: I learned a whole lot of new things at this meeting. The origin of the Zebulon Business Park was one of those new things. I like hearing that the focus of the future will be Hwy 341.]

Kel Brannon. We have got to have someone who can work for the county. Treasurer has people calling him. Right now, people are trying to contact board members rather than having a single person who is dedicated to handling this. PickPike.com Needs to be updated and kept up. The lots are not updated. Marketing can be done on there. We can be a contact to market for private entities if needed too.

Jason Proctor. We need to work more with businesses. Impact Fees are high.

Briar Johnson. Said that he appreciated both boards coming together to work toward a solution. That worked for the Business Park on 341 too. The IDA Director worked on that at the time too. If she had been paid what other people are getting paid, she may not have left this position to do something else.

How do benefits work? When Steve Morrow was the Economic Director, the county agreed that he could be a part of the county benefits. This is something for discussion. We are in an area that works with other counties like Lamar, Upson, etc. This tri-county aspect can help us work together proactively too.

Brandon Rogers. Budget reports are due by the end of the month. This can be done now.

Bryan Oglesby. How does this work with a resolution? Answer: Rob Morton. A resolution can be done quickly, but it can also be tied to the upcoming budget year. Individual meetings will take place in March, and the budget will be presented in March with adoption at the end of May. July 1 through June 30 next year. Maybe specific the relationship and agreement now with an explanation of where to go from here and maybe tie it to the upcoming budget. Only requires one reading. This doesn’t require a public hearing. Said that Brandon would like to hear this so it can be part of the upcoming budget.

Millage rate is set on the tax digest.

Brandon Rogers. Eliminate part of our (the BOC's) budget to go toward this. This would be what was allocated for Stephen’s job.

Bryan Oglesby. Fixed rate from now on. We live within that amount. It doesn’t have to come up every year. The BOC knows that this will part of the budget every year.

Brandon Rogers. ¼ mill. Slight increase. $63,000 now. $47,000 for Stephen’s position from the BOC budget. $108,000 now. That makes $160,000 ish. Where will the rest come from? Much less than $100 a home when you look at it like this. Discussion that the job will pay for itself.

Brandon Rogers. Say 2 years down the road and they get an option for land. How do they come up with money for the land. Answer: Rob Morton: They have opportunity to raise money that the county can’t. We can’t double tax. Instead of a mill, give a number and include it in the general fund. It’s up the board how to do that, but there could be difficulties down the line if they had a ¼ mill instead of $160,000. The authorities have the ability to go out and incur debt where the BOC is limited.

[Note from the Editor: I may be understanding this incorrectly and ask that someone contact me if that is the case, but what I am hearing is that the IDA position that was moved over to the BOC Office to be directly under the County Manager CANNOT be under the County Manager anymore when this person is hired to do the job that Brandon Rogers has essentially been doing for a time while the IDA/EDA was without a director. That means that the office will have to be put back over in the Chamber Office and that the person will be accountable directly to the IDA/EDA Board first rather than the County Manager because of state rules on fundraising, etc. for this board. I think that is a very good thing and will free up some time for our county manager to work on other things for the county because the IDA/EDA Board will be responsible for this with monthly minutes continuing to go to the BOC so our commissioners know what is going on.]

Bryan Oglesby. Can issue a bond for land that the BOC has to guarantee, but what happens if we don’t have the money to pay it from the Economic Development Authority? The intent would be for the millage rate to be sufficient on this. The resolution can be modified if needed from ¼ mill to 1/3 if needed that would keep the EDA able to pay their debt for land if needed. Bryan doesn’t want this to be an annual discussion. Morton. This will be discussed anyway to ensure that the money is being used well. You’ll want to have that discussion to show what you’re doing.

Department 75 will go away? Morton. Give direction to Rogers today to come up with numbers on this.

Brandon Rogers. If going with a designated number and doing away with Department 75, that is what he needs as step one. Step two is how much they need. ¼ mill get them through this year. This might change with the land acquisition, but we can start here.

Rob Morton. We have authority to go up to a mill. This is a good starting point to see how the numbers go from here with ¼ mill. Rogers like the resolution without a number in the resolution. If $150,000, it will catch the eye. But ¼ mill will grow with the Economic Development Authority.

Discussion. This is authorized by state law. $324,000 is ½ mill per year, and that’s a little more than we need right this second. Could work with the debt service to get something rolling and discuss what is needed for the next year. ¼ mill to start out. Morton said that the commissioners can require a business plan if that is needed. Morton. Plan and numbers go to Brandon and he can project whether an increase is needed, but this is just to get things rolling.

More discussion. Not adding much to the budget for this. Only about $42,000 difference that has to be for ¼ mill. Might be better to go with ¼ mill than a number. Can justify the job through tax dollars coming into the county because it will reduce the amount that tax payers are paying each year.

¼ mill rather than a certain amount of money each year. The money that they are sitting on can be used for a business park later.

Meredith has a contact who has contacts on the state level who can help find someone. She is going to coordinate with the IDA/EDA on this.

Need a motion today? No, but Rogers and Morton will work together to make this happen. July 1 will start the new budget. Probably won’t get money itself until December or January when taxes come in if go with the mill rate.

Jason Proctor. Thanked volunteers for their help on this.

SBA representative here. Homeowners, businesses, renters, and non-profits can apply for benefits after FEMA if needed.



Motion to adjourn. 5:32 p.m.

Agenda subject to change.

[Note from the Editor: If you appreciate being able to read information from county meetings for free on Pike County Times, please make a donation to Pike County Times through the PayPal link at the bottom of the page or by check to Pike County Times at PO Box 843, Zebulon so I can justify the amount of time that I am spending away from family. It may not seem like much but sitting in a meeting and then typing it up takes a lot more time than you might imagine! Thanks for reading Pike County's only FREE newspaper.]