Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor approved an item at Wednesday morning’s public meeting that, possibly, could make an increase of the local homestead ad valorem property tax exemption a ballot item for Bartow voters this November.
“This is something that we’re really proud to do,” Taylor said. “If you’re a homeowner and a taxpayer in Bartow County, what this is is we’re doubling your homestead exemption from $5,000 per homestead to $10,000.”
Taylor noted that the exemption is only available to homeowners and is not applicable to rental properties.
The proposal, however, requires passage in the General Assembly before becoming a referendum item.
“It has to be voted on by the people, so we assume with the Legislature’s acceptance of this, by this fall and November’s election you will be able to vote on whether to increase our exemption,” Taylor said.
An uptick in economic investments throughout the community, Taylor said, is the driving force behind the proposed tax relief.
“One of the reasons why we can do this is because of the growth we have in industry in Bartow County,” he said. “This is really a big deal for taxpayers in Bartow County.”
Elsewhere on the agenda, Taylor approved a public safety radio system agreement with Cherokee County and Polk County.
“We tied into Cobb County with our public safety radio system,” said Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson. “That saved us about $1 million. Likewise, Cherokee and Polk are now building 700/800 megahertz radio systems and they want to tie into Cobb’s core and they need to come through our towers to do that.”
Ultimately, Olson said the idea is to create a regional system, which would also allow access for agencies in Douglas and Forsyth, among other counties.
“Since their initial investment, they’ve expanded, I think, in six different phases, so their total investment over there is over $250 million and there’s over 700 jobs now,” Olson said.
On the subject of major economic developments, Taylor also approved a memorandum of understanding with Nippon Light Metals Georgia, a Japanese company that announced plans to construct a $50 million manufacturing facility in Adairsville last November. According to a press release from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office
, the project is expected to bring an estimated 110 new jobs to the community.
Taylor likewise approved an agreement with Kentucky-based The Rx Connection, LLC.
“They’re going to provide some services to our health benefit plan to help try and negotiate better drug prices and find more efficient and less costly prescriptions,” Olson said.
An intergovernmental agreement with the City of Cartersville to fund a farmer's market manager position was also approved.
“We averaged about 43,000 market visitors throughout the entire season,” University of Georgia Bartow County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese said of last year's numbers. “Market sales averaged $115,000 for all of our farmer’s market vendors, and that was roughly about a 40% increase in produce sales compared to previous years.”
He said about 75% of the agricultural products sold at the market were sourced from within a 30-mile radius.
“And over 40% of our customers are weekly shoppers,” he said. “So we feel like it was a very successful season and we appreciate the continued support for the farmer’s market coordinator position.”
“A lot of folks out there are looking for homes to buy and they can’t find one that they can afford,” Taylor said. “The planning commission voted on this project 6-0 — they did do their due diligence, they did their research on it and I understand they asked a lot of questions during their meeting.”
Other items approved by Taylor at Wednesday's meeting include:
— An item authorizing the purchase of 1.955 acres of right of way east of Paga Mine Road. Olson said the acquisition would help facilitate both the installation of new waterlines and the widening of Paga Mine Road itself.
— An item accepting right of way at Sugar Valley Road and Road No. 2 South near the new Dollar General store.
— An item authorizing a lease agreement for temporary space to house the County's new voting hardware. "It's just a place to store the equipment for the next six months," said Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk.