Towns County remains in good financial health

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HIAWASSEE, Ga – Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw says the county is in good shape financially even in the middle of COVID-19.

The spending freeze Bradshaw enacted at the beginning of the pandemic is still in place.

“We knew that COVID would affect the county financially, so we just stopped spending any money in the county other than things we just had to have,” explained Bradshaw. “We don’t know what this Fall is going to be.”

The Georgia Mountain Fair and the parade were canceled, which impacted Towns tourism economy. The Fall Festival and Christmas Lightshow are still on track at this time.

Governor Brian Kemp updated county commissioners on Georgia’s situation last week. According to Kemp, the statewide case numbers had decreased by 22 percent over the previous two weeks, and hospitalizations dropped by seven percent in seven days.

Every day over 31,000 Georgians receive a COVID-19 test, and the positive case rate is on the decline as the “mortality rate continues to fall,” Kemp’s letter added.

“Our folks are doing a good job here in the county. Our numbers are going up, but I’m just curious…how many of those people are over it and back to normal…I would love to know that data, but we haven’t been able to find that data,” Bradshaw concluded.

The commissioner also asked everyone to remember the three W’s, wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear a mask. The county strongly recommends everyone to wear a mask, especially when social distancing isn’t possible.
Towns received a $4,000 ACCG safety grant, and the funds will go toward road department needs, such as traffic flags, cones, chaps, helmets, safety gloves, reflective lights, safety vests, and goggles. It’s a non-matching grant, so the county isn’t required to pay any money to access the grant funds.

County Reimbursement Resolution

The new SPLOST tax collections will begin in October 2020. The funds will go to the road department and courthouse renovation expenses. However, the county needs to open bidding for a new dump truck for winter road maintenance and pay courthouse renovation architect bills before the collections officially begin. A local government can purchase equipment and pay bills with funds on hand through a county reimbursement resolution and then reimburse itself once SPLOST collections come in.

“The county attorney said that if we have to pay for the dump truck before the collections come in, the county can pay for it, and then when the SPLOST collections come in, we can reimburse ourselves,” said Bradshaw. “It’s for two things, one for the dump truck and the other is the architect firm doing the courthouse renovation and addition. I’m sure those folks are going to be sending bills.”

The resolution lets the county pay for a portion or all of the project, and then reimburse itself for the amount spent. The maximum tax-exempt debt principal is currently estimated to be $8 million, which is the courthouse renovation. Once collections start in October, future payments or purchases will be made using SPLOST funds.

AVITA Community Partners Board Appointment

Deena Handy was appointed to serve on the AVITA Community Partners Board to replace Sylvia Chassner. The AVITA Program works with individuals experiencing mental illness, developmental disabilities, or dealing with substance abuse. Handy holds a bachelor’s in business administration, BS in nursing, RN license, masters in community counseling with a psychological testing specialization.

“She’s a very nice lady, and she’s very dedicated to serving other people,” stated Bradshaw.

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