2007-01-18 / Front Page

SPLOST referendum set for March 20; BOE honors state championship team

Four members of the Lincoln County Board of Education were given the oath of office by Magistrate Judge Lee Moss (far left) at the regular meeting of the board held Tuesday, January 9. Pictured with Judge Moss are: (l-r) Dr. Robert Williams, Gail Remsen, Wayne Williford, and Becky Reed. Four members of the Lincoln County Board of Education were given the oath of office by Magistrate Judge Lee Moss (far left) at the regular meeting of the board held Tuesday, January 9. Pictured with Judge Moss are: (l-r) Dr. Robert Williams, Gail Remsen, Wayne Williford, and Becky Reed. The Lincoln County Board of Education approved a referendum resolution and notice for election to renew the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), which runs out on June 30, 2007, and provide for the issuance of $25,150,000 in general obligation bonds, supported by sales and property taxes, to build a new school.

The action was taken at the group's regular meeting held Tuesday, January 9.

The ballot will take the following form:

Shall the Lincoln County School District issue general obligation bonds in principal amount not to exceed $25,150,000 to pay the costs of:

(1) acquiring, constructing, and equipping a new high school and/or middle school and related facilities, including necessary furnishings, fixtures, and equipment.

(2) renovating, extending, repairing, and equipping existing school district schools, facilities, and properties useful or desirable in connection therewith.

(3) acquiring and installing systemwide instructional and administrative technology, safety, and security equipment.

(4) acquisition of school buses and transportation equipment.

(5) acquisition of music, vocational, and physical education/athletic equipment.

(6) acquiring any necessary property therefore, both real and personal (the "Projects").

(7) paying expenses incident to accomplishing the foregoing.

And, shall a one-percent sales and use tax for educational purposes by reimposed in the Lincoln County School District for a period of time not to exceed 20 consecutive quarters in order to raise not more than $8,000,000 to pay a portion of the debt service on such bonds; to pay a portion of the costs of acquiring, constructing, and equipping the Projects; to pay capitalized interest through October 1, 2008; and to fund the payment of principal and interest on the school district's Series 2002 General Obligation Refunding Bonds commencing on December 1, 2007?

The referendum is set for Tuesday, March 20.

The new school will measure approximately 163,000 square feet and cost an estimated $27 million. The facility will be located on approximately 56 acres of land east of the board office on Metasville Road.

Although the wording of the referendum calls for "a new high school and/or middle school," it is generally agreed that the board will use the money to build a new high school.

The board chose the wording so the system could qualify for the maximum in capital outlay funding from the state ($7.5 million). Had the referendum specified a high school only, the system would have been eligible for $4.3 million in state funds.

The bottom line is that once the structure is built, the board can decide what grades will be housed there.

In other discussion, it was reiterated that the current middle school/high school campus will not be abandoned. The system will still use the football field, the gymnasium, etc. In fact, the referendum provides funds for the repair and maintenance of existing facilities.

In a related item of business, Don Hight and Tom Owens of Knox Wall, a division of Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc., outlined the investment banking services provided by their company. In essence, Knox Wall will sell the bonds for the system as well as help Superintendent Randall Edmunds, the board, and others campaign for the new school.

A steering committee will be in charge of running the general campaign, which includes the distribution of brochures and other informational items. Other groups will be responsible for conducting a personalized, grassroots one-on-one campaign.

"Our passage rate is 96 percent," said Hight. "We need from 660 to 670 votes to get this referendum passed. Basically, we want people to know why they are voting for or against the project."

It was likewise mentioned that the system does not need to sell all the bonds up front.

According to Tom Owens, "We will issue the bonds in multiple series which will save some money. Still, we have to start with the maximum amount we're asking for and go down. We can't do it the other way."

At the conclusion of the discussion, the board voted to utilize the services of Knox Wall.

In other business, the board passed a resolution honoring the LCHS Football Team and Coaching Staff "for winning the 2006 Class A Football State Championship; for having back-toback Class A Football State Championships in 2005 and 2006; for posting a 14-1 season record; for having the number one scoring defense in all GHSA (Georgia High School Association) classifications, allowing only 4.13 points per game; for giving Coach Larry Campbell his 400th career win and the distinction of being one of the top five winningest coaches in the nation; and for continuing the great tradition of past Red Devil teams by winning the 14th Football State Championship since 1960."

When Superintendent Edmunds finished reading the resolution, the audience broke into applause.

Coach Campbell, athletic director and head football coach at LCHS, was on hand to accept the resolution on behalf of the players and coaching staff.

Each player and coach will receive a copy of the resolution at the school's Fall Sports Banquet which will be held in the near future.

Following the presentation of the resolution to Campbell, Dr. Edmunds noted that the coach was recently recognized as one of the top five winningest coaches in the nation at the United States Army All- Star Game in San Antonio, Texas. Also invited to take part the weeklong event were the top 20 high school football programs and 78 of the best football players in the country.

The conference featured roundtable discussions among the coaches ditional public safety services, road improvements, the expansion of water and sewer services, and the construction of a gymnasium at the Curry Colvin Recreation Complex which will be accomplished using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) monies.

"This is an exciting time in the history of our county, and as the presiding elected official, I am eager to convert these opportunities into realities," stated Chairman Norman. "With the members of the commission and our department heads, we have a leadership team in place to carry out this mission.

"Tonight, I ask for your continued support, your ideas, and your participation as these opportunities unfold for our county. We're all in this together, and we will all benefit from the results as our new neighbors learn what we already know - there's no place like Lincoln County."

In conclusion, the chairman listed the fund balances for the various accounts including the General Fund, $531,055.13; the Emergency Fund, $442,607; the Water Reserve Fund, $120,759.73; the SPLOST Fund, $933,502.00; and the Jail Fee Fund, $42,105.38.

In other business, the commission:

.. Appointed Larry Collins to serve as vice chairman.

..Voted to allocate $15,000 to fund the health department's budget through the end of June.

.. Voted to accept a $2,500 50/50 matching Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Grant from the Georgia Forestry Commission to purchase two sets of pumper test equipment.

.. Voted to allow the Public Safety Department to apply for a $30,613 OHS-FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety Grant. The funds will be used to hire a part-time fire prevention and safety educator to teach fire safety to pre-school, elementary school, and middle school students as well as senior citizens.

The county's share of the grant is $1,531.

.. Voted to name a previously unnamed dirt lane in the Thomson Boat Club "Phil Harrison Street."

.. Heard the Public Safety Department Report given by Director Ernie Doss, who indicated that the ambulance service responded to 86 calls for emergency assistance during the month of December.

As for the E-911 center, dispatchers handled 520 emergency calls last month and monitored 6,712 radio transmissions.

.. Heard the Water Department Report given by Director Roby Seymour who said that 1,466 water customers were billed for a total of $38,475.66 in December.

Concerning public works, he stated that his staff has completed trimming trees on dirt roads in the county and is now cleaning up around bridges and guardrails.

.. Heard the Recreation Department Report given by Director Kathie Davis who pointed out that basketball registration will be held through January 26. The season is set to begin on February 12 and end the week of March 12. Games will take place in the LCES Gymnasium.

In a related item of business, the commission voted to approve an agreement between the recreation department and Lincoln County Little League that clarifies the responsibilities of each entity.

.. Reviewed the Finance Department Report submitted by Director Traci Bussey.

.. Heard the Planning and Zoning Department Report given by Director Meg Burg who said her staff issued 33 business licenses for a total of $1,850 last month.

Regarding code enforcement activities, Burg indicated that 25 building permits were issued in December for a total of $1,811.

.. Voted to repeal one section of the Water Availability Service Ordinance as well as refund payments made by 60 customers in the Providence Ferry subdivision. The ordinance will be amended after the Public Works Committee has had the opportunity to study the proposed changes.

.. Heard Chairman Norman appoint the following committees:

Finance Committee (budget, revenues, and expenditures) - Commissioner Collins, chairman, and Commissioner Allen Walker.

Recreation Committee (the recreation complex, Eddie Fletcher Park, The Lincoln Center, the Senior Citizens Program, the library, the development authority, and tourism) - Commissioner Darrell Henderson, chairman, and Commissioner Mike Hawkes.

Public Works Committee (the road department, the convenience center, engineering, the water and sewer department, and planning and zoning) - Commissioner Walker, chairman, and Commissioner Henderson.

General Government Committee (the constitutional officers, emergency services, all county buildings, communications, GIS, elections, the cooperative extension service, and the tax assessor's office) - Commissioner Hawkes, chairman, and Commissioner Collins.

Prior to the meeting, Magistrate Judge Lee Moss presided over a swearing-in ceremony for Commissioner Darrell Henderson and Commissioner Larry Collins. This marks Henderson's first term on the board.

The next regular meeting of the commission will be held Thursday, February 8, at 7 p.m. in the courtroom at the Lincoln County Courthouse.

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