By Taelor Rye
At its July 25 regular meeting, the Eastman City Council moved to continue discussions regarding the approval of a proposed dedicated property tax millage rate increase so that city councilors may receive more training and exposure to information on the effects of a hypothetical millage rate increase as well as alternative funding methods.
For example, according to Charles Williams of the Eastman-Dodge County Chamber of Commerce, Ralph Forbes, from Thomas & Hutton Engineering Company, visited the chamber on Tuesday, July 26, to discuss community funding and its impact.
In addition, the City of Douglas and Coffee County have offered to hold a tentative breakfast on Thursday, July 28, to show Eastman and Dodge County representatives the effect of their own one-mill tax increase.
According to city council member Buddy Pittman, city council members will also be able to partake in a webinar on millage rates. He encouraged his colleagues to participate in that “so that we’ll be more informed on the decision.”
City council member Prince Dawson expressed agreement with Pittman, who moved to continue discussions on the item at its August 8 meeting, which Williams identified as the last meeting to make a decision on the matter so that it applies to this year’s tax digest.
“We’re all in agreement that we need to do something,” Dawson said.
The council approved motions to close its streetscape and Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) accounts, moving funds from each to the general fund account as reimbursement for projects financed.
The streetscape account held $51,329.03, and the SPLOST account held $248,875.89. Funds reimbursed by the SPLOST account, which went toward Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) projects, were accounted for in the budget this year, but streetscape project funds are from a few years ago. City council member Milton Johnson expressed interest in the possibility of using the newly acquired streetscape reimbursement for community projects.
The council additionally renewed its Oconee Drug Task Force agreement for 2017, allotting $8,803.00 for the task force’s services, as it has done in years past.
City manager Jason Cobb brought up discussions on advertising a request for engineering firms’ qualifications for upcoming CDBG projects.
Cobb stated that the request is due to the “likelihood that we will use federal funds,” noting that federal guidelines must therefore be followed.
Technically, Cobb clarified, the request is not for bids although firms will include hourly rates and other charges. Instead, the firm selection is based on most appropriate qualifications, following between 18 and 20 different criteria.
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