Legislative Notebook: One fewer election in Crawford

January 16, 2014 

Crawford County would end elections for county surveyor under a new bill from state Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella.

County surveyor is an old, unpaid and little-used office in charge of settling county boundaries and surveying in some court cases.

The county’s longtime surveyor, Dickey said, recently died.

House Bill 752 puts the county commission in charge of appointing a surveyor.

Dams still unchecked

Georgia has more than 4,000 earthen dams, and it’s up to the state’s Safe Dams program to categorize them. For the ones above populated areas, the program makes sure owners keep them in good repair.

It’s a thankless and difficult job, according to one boss.

“Federal funds on the Safe Dams side have been reduced,” said Jud Turner, director of the Environmental Protection Division, at a Thursday budget hearing.

People who own earthen dams may not realize the responsibility that comes with such property. And compounding the problem, Turner explained to a joint appropriations subcommittee, is that cities and counties sometimes allow building in flood plains. That downstream building turns an upstream earthen dam into a high priority.

“You tell people they have to fix ... a dam for a few million dollars,” Turner said. “That goes over well.”

State Sen. Ross Tolleson, R-Perry, at the hearing, predicted the federal government would leave the cost to the state.

GATE tax break half successful

The Georgia Agriculture Tax Exemption program, just overhauled last year, offers farmers a tax exemption on their inputs and supplies.

About 33,000 GATE certificates have been issued so far, a Department of Agriculture spokesperson said in a budget hearing Thursday.

Georgia has about 60,000 farmers, and it’s not clear why the others are not taking up the GATE exemption.

To qualify, a farmer must produce at least $2,500 from their labors annually.

The break is unpopular with counties, which lose sales tax money and suspect some cheaters have wrangled certificates.

-- Maggie Lee

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