Lee postpones mapping vote

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Lee County commissioners decided to give the Leesburg City Council time to reconsider the city's decision not to participate in funding a proposed flood plane mapping study by tabling a scheduled vote on the matter at the commission's business meeting Tuesday night.

Commissioners Dennis Roland and Betty Johnson said they didn't understand the city's decision to not participate in funding the $74,400 proposal that would have set new flood elevations for homes in the county that had been moved into the most recent FEMA flood plane.

"Normally, I'd say that the city deserves the same treatment as county taxpayers on a matter like this, but at the first (County Commission) meeting I attended, we voted to give $5 million (in special tax funds) to Leesburg for a wastewater treatment plant," Roland said before offering the motion to table the matter. "They held onto that money for two years or so and earned interest on it while we were paying interest.

"If it hadn't been for that, I'd be in favor of (the county) financing the study."

Despite the argument by Commissioner Rick Muggridge that changing the county's current animal control ordinance relating to labeling potentially dangerous animals was "a step in the wrong direction for public safety," the Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a new ordinance that would make such a label apply to animals that bit humans, not other animals.

"I don't see any reason to change the ordinance to make it weaker," Muggridge said. "The head of animal control wants us to retain the current ordinance as a tool to control these animals and I have not heard a public outcry against it.

"If we wait until a dog bites a human, we've waited too late."

Johnson sided with Muggridge, while Commissioner Bill Williams voted with Roland to approve the ordinance change. Commission Chair Ed Duffy cast the deciding vote to change the ordinance.

The commission voted to grant American Tower Corp. a variance that will allow the company to erect a communications tower that exceeds the county's maximum tower height by 15 feet (to 195 feet); OK'd a contract with First Baptist Church of Albany to use the church as a voting precinct, and denied a request by Danny Bishop for homestead exemption credit that he didn't receive from 2002 to 2008.

"This is governed by state law, and state law says that a refund is allowed when taxes are illegally or erroneously assessed," County Attorney Jimmy Skipper said. "I don't see where that was done here."

The board voted to allow staff to extend credit to garbage collection bills of customers whose garbage is not collected for weather-related reasons; OK'd Roland's request that notices be sent for collection of some $76,000 in delinquent Emergency Medical Services accounts; approved the renewal of a loan note taken by the Parks and Recreation Authority for the Grand Island Club until a refinancing proposal is approved, and OK'd Public Works' request for the purchase of agriculture pumps and piping, plus an additional $1,000 requested by interim director Mike Sistrunk for a trailer to haul the equipment.

Muggridge gave an update on the county's Census Complete Count Committee, after which Duffy said, "Commissioner, do you know I haven't received my census form yet?"

Muggridge replied: "I haven't either," then paused a beat and added, "and these folks are going to be managing our health care soon."