Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
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GrapeNew
COUNTY OFFERS PLAN BUT CITY SAYS IT CHANGES NOTHING
CITY OF TIFTON PROCEEDS TO TAKE OVER SOME SERVICES
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County has submitted another proposal to the City of Tifton for specified joint services, but the city said the plan doesn’t "prevent a substantial increase in taxes for city residents."

For a couple of years, the city and county have been attempting to reach agreement on a “Service Delivery Strategy.” Every 10 years, the state requires local governments to adopt a joint plan to detail what services – such as fire, water, animal control, etc., – are provided and who provides them.

At a special called meeting last Thursday night, the Tift County Commission voted to send the city a proposal that county commissioners said "does not separate departments, does not degrade services, and does not increase taxes. However, it does serve to settle lawsuits, end service delivery disputes, and provide a  pathway  to bridging the gap  that has existed between our governments for far too long."

In a written statement released Tuesday to the Tifton Grapevine , the City of Tifton said: "The county’s 'new proposal' does not alter the City Council’s decision not to contract with the county. The City Council’s decision not to contract with the county is to prevent a substantial increase in taxes for city residents while at the same time providing a superior level of service to city residents.”

City officials have said the county's proposals would necessitate City Council having to raise city taxes by up to 5 mills . Rather than do that, the city said it decided to handle its own recreation, tax collections, animal control, city elections, non-emergency 911 dispatching and the housing of city inmates – now overseen by the county.

"Some on the City Council have said that certain county proposals would have required the city to raise its millage rate. That statement is true, but  not the whole truth ," county commissioners said in a open letter this week in the Tifton Grapevine .

"What they failed to mention is the fact that there would have been a  corresponding   decrease  in the  county millage rate  to those same citizens, thereby offsetting the increase and rendering it essentially moot," the county commissioners wrote.

But at the City Council meeting on June 15 , City Attorney Rob Wilmot said there is a question about whether city taxpayers will actually see their county taxes go down. Wilmot said that in 2018 , the county agreed that it would stop charging city residents for county code enforcement since the city handles that itself. Wilmot said the countywide tax rate never was reduced.

“Can I guarantee that the county is going to reduce their millage rate ?” Wilmot asked. “...They didn’t do it in this instance."

In their open letter to the community this week, county commissioners said the City of Tifton "has rejected each and every offer put forth by the county without even once submitting a counter-proposal for our consideration. Anyone who has been involved in trying to broker a deal of any kind knows that a  one-sided negotiation  is really not a negotiation at all. ....

“At a time when our nation is facing an unprecedented public health pandemic, global economic uncertainty, and social unrest the likes of which we haven't seen in decades, the issues keeping us apart on a local level seem insignificant at best, and inexcusable at worst. The time for action is now. It's time to come together. We’ve extended our hand and we ask the city to grasp it ."

In its statement Tuesday , the city said: “On May 15, the county submitted to the city what was captioned as the county’s “Final Proposal.”  After consideration of the county’s “Final Proposal,” the city determined it would be in the best interest of city taxpayers not to continue contracting with the county for certain services.

“...Based upon the county’s “Final Proposal,” the city adopted and sent to the county the required forms for these services to be submitted to the (state) Department of Community Affairs ."

The city said Tuesday that it is still awaiting the county's approval of the forms that detail the city taking over specified services.

"Once the city has received from the county a response to the submitted forms, we will continue the process of having a Service Delivery Strategy developed and submitted to the Department of Community Affairs,” the city said.
COVID-19 CASES SPIKE IN GEORGIA & TIFT COUNTY; KEMP EXTENDS GUIDELINES
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
As COVID-19 cases spike across Georgia, Tift County is also seeing a steady increase .

Cases in Tift rose 32 percent in the past week, by 181 cases; in the past three weeks , new cases in Tift County have increased by 423 , resulting in a total of 750 confirmed cases, the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) reported Tuesday.

There also have been 26 deaths of Tift countians and 100 hospitalizations, the DPH said. Statewide cases rose to 81,291 with 2,805 deaths and 11,051 hospitalizations.

Gov. Brian P. Kemp said Monday that because of the increases, he has extended current social distancing guidelines for businesses and stay-at-home orders for vulnerable citizens by another two weeks.

The extended orders ban gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is at least six feet of distance between them; restaurants, bars and other businesses must maintain sanitization practices.

Residents of long-term care facilities and those with chronic health conditions must remain sheltered in place through July 15 .

Kemp’s order also requires the state Board of Education to draft rules to guide local officials in reopening public schools .

“As we continue our fight against COVID-19 in Georgia, it is vital that Georgians continue to heed public health guidance by wearing a mask , washing their hands regularly and practicing social distancing,” Kemp said.

He is traveling the state this week to encourage Georgians to wear face masks and to maintain social distancing during the Independence Day holiday weekend .
EXCHANGE CLUB NAMES TOP COP
The Exchange Club of Tifton recently presented its Officer of the Year Award to Senior Patrol Officer Eric Hughes with the Tifton Police Department .

Hughes is part of the city's Crime Suppression Unit. Chief Steve Hyman said Hughes is always willing to go above and beyond, and will fill in on other shifts anytime he is needed. Hughes has been with the TPD for three years.

Presenting the award is, at left, Jimmy Cole , Exchange Club president, and Chief Hyman at right.
JOBLESS RATE DROPS IN TIFT, STATE
As it did statewide, the unemployment rate dropped during May in Tift County .

Tift’s jobless rate was 6.1 percent in May ; it was 8.8 percent in April and was 3.1 percent one year ago, according to the Ga. Department of Labor (DOL).

“I think the drop in the unemployment rate indicates the strength of our workforce and our businesses, manufacturers and logistics companies . We’ve experienced steady growth over the last few years and our economic development activity has remained high, even during the pandemic," said Chris Beckham , vice president of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce.

"We know some businesses have suffered over the last few months, but we’ve also gotten reports of a strong retail bounce-back in May. It’s good news for Tift County , and we will continue to work to bring that rate down to the record levels we’ve had in the past year,” Beckham said.

In the Tiftarea , the jobless rate in May compared to April is:

  • Cook County – 5.1 percent, May; 7.8 percent, April
  • Irwin County – 6.1 percent; 8.5 percent
  • Worth County – 6.4 percent; 9 percent
  • Berrien County – 6.6 percent; 13.6 percent
  • Ben Hill County –6.9 percent; 10.9 percent
  • Turner County –7.3 percent; 10.3 percent

In Georgia , May's unemployment rate of 9.7 percent was a decrease of 2.9 percent from April’s 12.6 percent, the DOL reported.

"I think we are going to continue to see big drops in the unemployment rate as Georgia continues to open back up," said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler . "We have to remember that the recent unemployment was not caused by an economic catalyst, but instead by a medical emergency. Those jobs are still out there for the most part."

The number of employed across Georgia was up 144,877 over April, but down 480,592 compared to this time last year totaling 4,424,801 . Georgia’s labor force number of 4,900,139 reported for May was up 5,743 over April, but down 186,179 when compared to May 2019
TIFTON ROTARY CLUB INSTALLS PRESIDENT
During its first gathering in more than three months because of the pandemic, the Rotary Club of Tifton on Tuesday night installed its new president for the 2020-21 year. Rick Register , left, receives the presidential gavel from outgoing president Wayne Roe .
TIFTON-TIFT COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE RIBBON CUTTING
  LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE and BE WELL RETREAT
504-B 9th Street East, Tifton
June 26
TIFTON GRAPEVINE'S PET OF THE WEEK
There are many available pets for immediate adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter . To find your "furever friend,"  visit the Animal Shelter from 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch's Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055
TIFTON CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE DAY
– JULY 4, 1922
The City of Tifton celebrated the Fourth of July in grand style on July 4, 1922 , with a band concert at the courthouse , a large barbecue , a parade down Main Street and an "afternoon sing" with Dr. L.A. Baker leading the singing of "old-time" songs, accompanied by the Tifton Concert Band .
REACH THOUSANDS OF FOLKS IN THE TIFTAREA ~
ADVERTISE IN THE TIFTON GRAPEVINE!
Call Us at 478-227-7126

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