Tag Archives: tax

HR 158 against state fee diversions passed 166:1 in GA House 2018-02-14

Yesterday’s Valentine’s Day present from the Georgia House was passing HR 158 with 166 yea and only 1 nay (6 not voting, and 7 excused). Except for district 175, which just finished a Special Election, every Georgia House member from the Suwannee River Basin voted yea. Thank you, Patty Bentley, John Corbett, Buddy Harden, Penny Houston, Dominic LaRiccia, Clay Pirkle, Jay Powell, Ed Rynders, Dexter Sharper, Jason Shaw, Jason Spencer, and Sam Watson!

Yea 166 Nay 1, Tally

Onwards to the Georgia Senate. We look forward to every Georgia State Senator from the Suwannee River Basin voting yea. WWALS members and others may want to give them a ring to remind them to do so. Senators Ellis Black (District 8) and Tyler Harper (District 7) please note that local governments in your districts have passed resolutions supporting HR 158.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Hahira is sixth resolution supporting GA HR 158, now in statehouse 2018-02-01

HR 158 may be scheduled for a vote in the Georgia House as soon as tomorrow. Help dedicate state fees to their intended purposes: please contact your Georgia House Representative or Georgia State Senator (follow the links for contact information) and ask them to pass HR 158. If you don’t know who your Georgia Representative or Senator are, see Georgia My Voter Page.

Hahira is the most recent of six local governments representing the majority of the population in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia, in five Georgia House districts and two Senate districts, that have passed a resolution supporting Georgia HR 158 against state fee diversions, with five stories and an editorial in the biggest circulation newspaper in the Basin. More local resolutions passed elsewhere in the state, but that ain’t bad for the Suwannee River Basin.

Camera, City Council

  1. 2018-01-08 Lanier County, House District 176 (Jason Shaw), Senate District 8 (Ellis Black) Continue reading

Hahira: against GA state fee diversions and for WLRWT 2018-01-30

Tonight, a resolution supporting the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail, and a resolution for Georgia HR 158 against state fee diversions, (the one already passed by three counties and two cities in the Suwannee River Basin), on the agenda at the Hahira City Council Work Session (and Thursday at the Regular Session). Both will be introduced by Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

When: 6:00 PM, Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Where: Hahira Courthouse, 301 W Main Street, Hahira, GA 31632

What: Work Session, Hahira City Council

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Atkinson County passes resolution against Georgia state fee diversions 2018-01-18

Chairman Lace Futch had a few words about my grandfather and a few questions, then he asked me to read the BE IT RESOLVED part to the Atkinson County Commissioners. They voted unanimously for the resolution to ask the Georgia state legislature to stop diversion of state fees, Thursday January 18, 2018. WWALS Board Member and Atkinson County resident Shirley Kokidko had asked for it to be on the agenda, and she thanked the Commissioners at the end of the meeting for passing it.

See also the resolutions previously passed by Lanier County 2018-01-08 and the City of Adel 2018-01-16.

Reading, Commission
Photo: Atkinson County Commission by John S. Quarterman for WWALS 2018-01-18.

Text of the Resolution

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City of Adel passed resolution against state fee diversions 2018-01-16

The City of Adel passed a city resolution in support of Georgia House Resolution 158, “a measure allowing the Georgia General Assembly to dedicate fee collections for their statutorily designated programs,” this Tuesday, January 16, 2018. That’s the second in the Suwannee River Basin, after Lanier County. The more of these urging resolutions that get passed, the more likely the legislature will act to schedule a Georgia Constitutional Amendment to stop many millions of dollars of diversions of state fees from their intended purposes.

Mayor, Council, Staff, Meeting
Photo: Adel City Council in their December 4, 2018 meeting, by John S. Quarterman for WWALS.

Text of the Resolution

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Resolution against state fee diversions discussed at Valdosta City Council 2018-01-11

For our waters, last Thursday, Valdosta City Council Tim Carroll recommended (Video) a resolution in support of a resolution in the Georgia state legislature to stop state fee diversions.


      12. Council Comments - Tim Carroll
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE) at Valdosta City Council, Thursday, January 11, 2018.

Newly elected Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Tooley wanted to know whether Continue reading

Lanier County Commission passes Resolution urging Georgia legislature to stop state fee diversions 2018-01-08

When you pay a state fee, be it for a license plate or for use of a landfill, chances are much of it is being diverted to some unrelated purpose. The Lanier County Commission today passed a resolution urging the Georgia legislature to dedicate state fees to their statutorily-designated programs.

Stop state fee diversion resolution, Board
Lanier County Commissioners Paul Brockington (District 1), Susan Bowling (District 3), Harold Simpson (District 2), Dennis Fender (District 4), and Alex Lee (Chairman). Neil Ginty (County Administrator) in pink shirt.

The Commissioners’ only question after I briefly spoke was to the County Administrator as to whether the county attorney had reviewed this resolution: she had. Thanks to Continue reading

One Mile Branch Cleanup 2017-11-11

Good turnout for the One Mile Branch Cleanup at VSU, including the new Valdosta Utilities Director, Darryl Muse, and his wife. Thanks Scotti Jay for organizing this outing, including bringing a cart for the materials and going back with a pickup truck to collect the bags of trash.

There were waterfalls just like Scotti said, Tom Potter fished a lawn chair out of the creek, we celebrated Armistice Day, we took some pictures with the Suwannee Riverkeeper banner, and we heard a word from Valdosta’s Utilities Director, all in addition to picking up a lot of trash for two hours on a cold windy November day.

Say WWALS, Banner

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Bad bill HB 316 SB 116 would take away stormwater permit revenue

If you want the Valdosta wastewater situation to be worse, let HB 316 SB 116 pass, taking away revenue for Valdosta or anybody upstream or down to control stormwater.

It turns out HB 316 was apparently from 2009.

The stormwater bill before the Georgia legislature this year (2017) is SB 116.

Here are the current GAWP talking points about SB 116, which you may notice also mention HB 316, which leads me to believe SB 116 is just HB 316 back again under another name.

Please Oppose Senate Bill 116
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

Senate Bill 116 would exempt “water-neutral sites”, defined as those properties designed to control runoff form a 25 year, 24-hour storm event in a manner consistent with the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual (GSMM), from paying stormwater user fees charged by local governments or authorities that have established stormwater utilities. Water-neutral sites, as defined in this bill, still discharge stormwater to the local drainage system, which the local government or authority is legally responsible for operating and maintaining.

Implications of HB 316: We ask you to consider the following far-reaching implications of the bill.

  1. Local Control. The State of Georgia should not interfere in how a local government operates a utility or charges its customers. This would be equivalent to the State saying how a local utility could charge (or not charge) for water or sewer services. If the General Assembly exempts “water-neutral properties” from paying fees for stormwater services, could they next exempt a defined class of customers from paying local water and sewer fees in the future?
  2. Economic Impact on Local Governments. This bill could have a devastating impact on local governments who are required to operate and maintain stormwater drainage systems for the public good and to protect the health, safety and welfare of their communities. “Water Neutral” properties are not actually water neutral because they still discharge stormwater runoff to the local drainage system thereby causing an impact. A local government still must bear the cost of maintaining the stormwater drainage system even if every property builds a detention pond to the 25 year, 24 hour storm event standard. The City of Griffin reports that the potential loss of revenue to their stormwater utility, should this bill pass, would be approximately 40% of their annual user fee revenue, thus crippling their stormwater utility and its ability to provide essential services.
  3. Public Safety. Stormwater utility revenues allow local governments to reduce flooding and replace failing infrastructure, including collapsing culverts under public roads. There is an unacceptable risk to public safety if local governments no longer have the ability to collect revenues to perform important and essential storm water management services.
  4. Existing Credits. Eligible properties with detention ponds are already offered user fee credits ranging from 30 — 50% from most stormwater utilities. This credit is offered in recognition of the reduced impact these properties have on the drainage system. However, the credit is not 100% because controlling the 25 year, 24-hour storm does not eliminate a property’s impact on the local drainage system; the customer still receives stormwater services.
  5. Customer Equity. Local governments are alone in their responsibility to manage stormwater drainage systems and operate stormwater management programs to protect life and property from flooding, and to protect local waterways from stormwater impacts so that the State’s waters remain fishable and swimmable for Georgians to enjoy. There is virtually no funding available from the State or Federal governments to assist local governments in carrying out this important charge. Thus, local governments have been forced to develop local financing mechanisms to provide sufficient revenue sources to carry out this responsibility. Allowing a contributor to the problem to be exempted from participating in paying a fair user fee for this service would be grossly unfair to the remainder of the paying customers and to the local government as well.

Here are all the Georgia state senators in WWALS watersheds.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

In addition to ACCG and GAWP, this bill is also opposed by the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC), including WWALS. Below are talking points from the ACCG website. Please contact your Georgia state legislators.

Please Oppose House Bill 316
Association County Commissioners of Georgia
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

House Bill 316 would exempt state government entities from paying local government stormwater utility charges. While specifically using the word “charges”, the proposed exemption appears to presume that the stormwater utility fee is a tax and not a fee for services. In presenting and promoting the bill, proponents may refer to these fees as a “rain tax”. However, in 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court specifically ruled in McLeod v. Columbia County that stormwater utility charges are, in fact, a fee for services, and not a tax. The State is exempt from taxes, but there is no legal or logical basis for the State to exempt itself from paying valid fees for actual services rendered.

Implications of HB 316: Continue reading

Ribbon Cutting, new WWTP and Force Main 2016-07-12

Finally ready for prime time and a ribbon cutting: the new, uphill, out-of-the-floodplain, long-awaited Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and Force Main, New WWTP site near Withlacoochee River which have not overflowed or otherwise caused sewage spills in the recent rains, so maybe Valdosta’s chronic problem smelt downstream all the way to the Gulf is perhaps finally fixed. Congratulations, Valdosta!

When: 8AM Tuesday July 12th 2016

Where: At the new WWTP on Wetherington Lane, north off US 84, west of I-75 exit 16

Invitations: Paper invitations were mailed last week, including to counties and health departments downstream in Florida, according to Sementha Mathews. If you didn’t get one, contact her, and she says the event is in any case open to the public.

Update 2016-05-30: Sementha Mathews says the paper invitations were mailed Tuesday (day before yesterday), so they should arrive by the end of the week. Arrived.

Contact: Sementha Mathews Continue reading