Going to continue with the crime reports, as that is the best source of crime right now (DCSO has even started to list crimes).
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I don’t have time right now to update the blog. Not sure when (or if) I will continue it.
Condolences to his family and friends. http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/autistic-boy-found-in-douglas-lake-dies-040710
Article and video can be found here: http://www.cbsatlanta.com/news/23084098/detail.html
Thanks to a reader who emailed me. She told me Sammy’s Pizza has closed–they have a recording on their phone line.
By James Bell
On April 1st Douglas County increased sales tax to 7 percent after a narrowly approved (32 votes) Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum last November. The SPLOST was to raise $150 million for a jail and to issue $120 million in bonds secured with our property. Needed projects such as road improvements, parks, etc. were excluded. The SPLOST/Jail issue has divided this county.
Pro-tax voters were voting with the belief that a 1500 bed jail was needed in Douglas County. It will be one of the largest in the state. They believed it was needed because their elected officials told them so. They were told the jail would be built with or without SPLOST dollars. They were told by the commissioners that they would see a property tax increase if they voted no.
The other half of the voters saw no need to build such a massive prison in this county. Some questioned the need to issue a general obligation bond for $120 million plus interest to build the jail. Some thought that alternatives to prison construction were never considered. Others were fed up with the commissioners repeatedly placing the issue on the ballot in spite of the fact that a majority of voters rejected the tax twice.
So, the commissioners got what it wanted. A massive jail, twice as large as is needed for our county, costing twice as much as other counties spent on their facilities. The county will abandon the $7 million Sheriff’s office annex that we are still paying for, to move into a $50 million administrative faculty near the interstate.
Now, according to a recent study, Georgia has an excess of jail space. Counties are scuffling over state inmates to help offset the cost of operating these facilities. Some cities and counties are considering closing their jails and correctional facilities because of expensive operations and maintenance cost, a cost that can not be sustained in this economy.
Opponents of the SPLOST can be proud that for 33 months they saved at least $50 million. Money we kept in our pockets and put back into the economy.
We can be proud that we stopped a $17 million YMCA and a multi-million dollar horse and dog park. We stopped a performing arts center. Had these facilities been built, they would have bankrupted this county or caused a massive property tax increase to cover the cost of operations, maintenance, and the hiring of dozens of staff, with benefits, to run these projects.
One issue I do regret in defeating the 2007 SPLOST is; we lost $25 million for road improvements. We can all agree we need road funds. It will now be 2017 before the county can call another SPLOST vote. Driving around our county it is obvious our roads are deteriorating and resurfacing is needed. But they have no cash to make repairs.
The future of Douglas County will be a “state of the art” prison with roads and streets of a third world nation.
Our commissioners deserve the credit or in this case… the blame.
Glad to see the former Old Time Pottery location won’t be sitting empty like the Wal-Mart shopping center is (for the most part). In today’s Sentinel:
Garden Ridge returning to Douglasville
by Helen McCoy/Douglas County Sentinel
Garden Ridge will return to Douglasville next month to a familiar spot — its former location on Douglas Boulevard.
The building, across the street from IHOP, Taco Mac and Home Depot, was recently vacated when Old Time Pottery filed to reorganize its finances in bankruptcy last December and closed shortly thereafter.
Now Garden Ridge is closing its Riverside Parkway store and will reopen here around Memorial Day, according to Chief Executive Officer Tom Kibarian.
It appears to be a win-win situation for the company and the city.
“We are thrilled to be coming back,” Kibarian said by telephone Tuesday. “When Old Time Pottery closed, we immediately seized the opportunity to get back to our old location.”
Douglasville Development Authority Executive Director Jamie Gilbert was equally excited.
To him, it means one less vacant building to fill, positive growth and attractiveness to that side of Douglas Boulevard and job opportunities for local people.
“With the way the economy is today, it’s great to see a retailer move back to the community,” Gilbert said..
Garden Ridge, a home decorating retail chain based in Houston, Texas, opened the store in Douglasville in 1999 but closed it in 2004, Kibarian said.
The store was not very profitable, although Kibarian now doesn’t believe the store had enough time to prove or establish itself. He said sales were only OK at the time.
The biggest problem, however, was the high rent for the building, he said.
The decision was made to close the store.
Soon after it closed, Kibarian said the company looked at other sites up and down Interstate 20, finally deciding on the Six Flags location, which it opened about 18 months ago.
But it was a decision that didn’t pay off, primarily because of the store’s isolated location.
“There’s a really nice church nearby and a really nice amusement park, but we do well where there’s a lot of retail,” Kibarian said.
Enter Douglas County again.
In the six years since the company left, Kibarian said he has noted the tremendous growth in the city.
He said there was a great customer base, even before, but he is impressed by the vibrant retail corridor that has come into its own.
“Douglasville is a really great community,” he said. “What a great mall and great people, who come to Douglasville for the shopping.
“It’s a very nice place to live, have children and have a home.”
Garden Ridge was started in San Antonio, Tex. in 1979 and moved to Houston in the early 1990s, according to Kibarian. It moved into Georgia in 1997, and almost simultaneously opened stores in Norcross, Stockbridge and Kennesaw.
The company now has 43 stores, mostly in the South, and has opened a few in the Midwest.
Work is already beginning at the Douglasville location, where the floor plan has already been laid out, Kibarian said.
Meanwhile, the Austell store will sell out its merchandise, with prices on all items knocked 50 percent off, with the exception of furniture and patio items, which are marked 30 percent off.
From yesterday’s Sentinel, I think:
County owes $225,000 in past due tax
by Winston Jones/Douglas County Sentinel
Tax audits are not just the ominous dread of the individual taxpayer.
U.S. Treasury Department auditors recently visited the Douglas County Courthouse and left behind a $225,000 invoice for past due payroll taxes.
The amount due includes disputed payroll taxes of $75,000 in 2007, $100,000 in 2008 and $50,000 in 2009, Jennifer Hallman, county finance director, told a Board of Commissioners (BOC) work session Monday. She said the Treasury Department has agreed to waive the regular 7 percent interest on the taxes due.
The BOC is expected to approve a payment agreement with the U.S. Treasury at today’s 10 a.m. BOC meeting in Citizens Hall at the county courthouse.
Hallman said the Treasury auditors cited 1956 and 1973 Georgia laws which define who qualifies as an employee for payroll tax deductions and who is an independent contractor.
The auditors found that payroll taxes should have been deducted from checks made to election poll workers, senior citizen recreation instructors and passport and vital records fees paid to court clerks.
“This is not just something happening here, but going on all over the state,” Commission Chairman Tom Worthan said of the audits. “They’re saying a ballroom instructor for two weeks at the senior center should be considered an employee and not an individual contractor.”
Ken Bernard, county attorney, said the tax situation is due to Georgia legislation and will require new legislation to change.
“You won’t get any legislation through this year,” he added, noting the current General Assembly session is less than 10 days from completion.
“This will hurt us in hiring poll workers since many are senior citizens,” District 4 Commissioner David Latham said.