Political Notes – Keeping the peace between cities and counties

[private]It’s an issue so contentious that at least two legislative committees are studying it: how do you handle annexations and incorporations of new municipalies without starting World War III between city and county governments?

The House version of the study committee held its first hearing Tuesday, focusing on the issue of annexations and deannexations, and a chief topic of conversation was the ongoing squabble between Waycross and Pierce County.

Waycross, which is located in Ware County, annexed a portion of Pierce County more than 30 years ago and supplies water services to that area of Pierce. Earlier this year, however, Rep. Chad Nimmer (R-Blackshear), introduced a bill that deannexed the property out of Waycross and put it back in unincorporated Pierce again.

Waycross officials said they weren’t informed about the deannexation until after Nimmer’s bill was signed into law, and the two sides are currently fighting the matter out in court. The dispute is cited as an example of how things can go off the rails in these situations.

One of the issues under scrutiny is how much public notice should be required when local governments annex or deannex property.

“We want the process to be clearly defined, we want it to be open, we want it to be fair,” said Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Brooklet), the study committee chair. (Tankersley is familiar with dealings between the two layers of local government – she was a Bulloch County commissioner for 10 years.)

She said the next committee hearing, set for Sept. 24, will look at the procedures that govern the incorporation of new cities. Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta), who chairs the Senate study committee on this issue, has a meeting set for Sept. 22.

PSC okays Georgia Power financing

As expected, the Public Service Commission has given Georgia Power the authorization to finance about $6.9 billion in capital spending over the next three years.

The commissioners voted Tuesday, with no discussion, to grant Georgia Power’s application to issue corporate debt and preferred stock, as well as draw down on loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy, to raise the money for these capital projects.

The largest part of the financing package will pay construction costs for the Plant Vogtle nuclear reactors ($1.64 billion), with the remainder being spent to refurbish transmission and distribution systems, install pollution controls and buy nuclear fuel.

“Georgia Power Company is not asking for approval of the costs in the filing, and the Commission would still review them in a rate case or other appropriate case,” Commissioner Tim Echols noted.

Tax credits for educating workers

With a new academic year underway, the Technical College System is reminding employers that they can become eligible for state income tax credits of up to $100,000 if they help their workers obtain a general equivalency diploma (GED).

“Nearly 18 percent of Georgia’s adult population has less than a high school education,” Technical College Commissioner Gretchen Corbin said.

An employer can earn a credit of $1,200 per employee if that worker is compensated for completing a 40-hour class and passing the GED exam. The class must be a Basic Skills Education class approved by the Technical College System and can be part of an existing program or a unique program established by the employer.

Employers also have the option of earning a $400 tax credit when a worker takes and passes a GED exam paid for by that employer.

Executive appointments

Gov. Nathan Deal’s office announced these appointments to state boards and commissions –

Disability Services Ombudsman Nominating Committee: Beth English of Vienna, the executive director of Easter Seals Southern Georgia; Eve Byrd of Decatur, a member of the Emory School of Nursing faculty; GBI Director Vernon Keenan; and Emile Risby of Lithonia, the medical director at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Department of Community Supervision Advisory Board: Lon Kemeness of Tifton, an attorney; Steve Page of Cumming, the chief executive officer of Georgia Probation Management; and Michael Terrell of Newnan, the chief state court probation officer for Coweta County.

Board of the Georgia Student Finance Commission: Lee Tucker of Peachtree Corners, an attorney.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: annexations , GEDs , Gretchen Corbin , Jan Tankersley , Nathan Deal , new cities , study committees