Biggest city in Suwannee River Basin passed resolution for dedicated state fees @ VCC 2018-01-25

Hear it from the Mayor, Acting City Manager, and Council of Valdosta, Georgia, and just in time for them and the Lowndes County Chairman, Manager, and Commissioners to attend their annual Bird Supper in Atlanta to discuss it with state legislators: fees collected by the state of Georgia should be dedicated to the purposes for which they were collected. Below are LAKE videos are from the Valdosta City Council, Thursday, January 25, 2018, including a few words I said about which local governments already passed this resolution.

  • 3.a. Resolution to support GA HR 158 for dedicated fee collections 
      3.a. Resolution to support GA HR 158 for dedicated fee collections

    Video. See also Thomas Lynn, VDT, 24 January 2018, City to weigh state fee collection. The Mayor asked Acting City Manager Mark Barber to introduce this item:

    Sure, as the Mayor said, this is House Bill 158, which is being introduced by our good friend Jay Powell from Camilla. This is an effort to redirect some fees and taxes that have been diverted to the general fund by the government. I believe the Valdosta Daily Times had a great story this morning on it, the example being the tires and the dollar fee for scrapping those tires. That’s been redirected.

    Presumably he was referring to Jill Nolin, VDT, Jan 24, 2018, Lawmaker: State should not ‘bait, switch’ fee use,

    ATLANTA — Every time someone buys a new tire in Georgia, a $1 fee is tacked onto the bill.

    The revenue from that fee is supposed to go toward hauling off the piles of old tires that accumulate in rivers, along country roads and elsewhere in the state, as well as cleaning up other environmental hazards.

    Or at least that’s what state lawmakers said — and put into state code — when they created the fee back in the 1990s.

    But in reality, about 41 percent of the $154 million collected has ended up in the state’s general fund during the more than two decades motorists have been paying the fee.

    For example, the tire amnesty that Lowndes County Public Works Director Robin Cumbus said was very successful last Mondahy morning (5,000 tires collected, many mosquitos left without breeding areas) came from a GA-EPD grant she discussed May 8, 2017, and, if I’m not mistaken, that grant comes from the Georgia Scrap Tire Abatement Reimbursement Program, which is funded by the Solid Waste Trust Fund, from which upwards of $50 million has been diverted to other purposes, as mentioned in a WHEREAS in the resolution on these local agendas.

    Back to Mark Barber:

    So this is some effort…. Again to receive some of those fees and taxes back as the coffers of the city as opposed to the general fund.

    Council Sonny Vickers asked: We don’t receive any of that back?

    Barber: It’s hard to tell…. This is a great start. I still think it’s going to lack some for being able to tell that we are beginning to receive that. It’s going to go into a bank to be held. It can’t receive more than one percent of the budget of the state for the prior year, and it’s going to be distributed from there, so. Right now we can’t really tell what we’re getting from the Department of Revenue.

    Council Sonny Vickers remarked: It’s a runaround, then.

    Mayor John Gayle: The state’s been using most of that money. I’ll give you an example I read today. There was $16 million collected from the Hazardous Waste Fund. And the state only put $4 million out of that. They put the rest into the general fund and used it for other things. There’s a backlog of 65 toxic waste dumps in the state.

    Council Tim Carroll: There’s a firestorm across the state. I read today that more and more cities and counties are adopting this resolution and supporting HR 158. And I just can not imagine any state representative voting against this when it hits the floor. Because they’re going to have some explaining to do.

    Mayor John Gayle: They really are And GMA [Georgia Municipal Association] has also endorsed it.

    Council Carroll made the motion, Council Vickers seconded, and they all voted aye. See also Thomas Lynn, VDT, 26 January 2018, City supports dedicated fee bill.

  • 5. Citizens To Be Heard, Thanks for Resolution against GA fee diversions –John S. Quarterman 
      5. CTBH, Thanks for Resolution against GA fee diversions --John S. Quarterman

    Video. Thanks to George Boston Rhynes for pointing the LAKE camera towards me, as I said:

    I want to thank y’all for passing that first item on the agenda. I believe Commissioner Carroll mentioned it’s been passed in a bunch of other places. Nearby the ones I know of are Lanier County [2018-01-08], the City of Adel [2018-01-16], Atkinson County [2018-01-18], Lowndes County [2018-01-23], and it’s on the agenda for Hahira next week. Although of course, you are the largest city to pass it in the immediate vicinity.

I wonder how all those local governments got this resolution? And just in time for the annual Bird Supper, at which elected officials and staff from Valdosta, Lowndes County, and Hahira feed quail and conversation to state legislators in Atlanta at the Railroad Depot, 5PM, Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Tickets are $50 each. I will be in Tallahassee, but I’m sure our local government officials can more than adequately express their opinions on HR 158.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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