The McDuffie County Board of Commissioners postponed its consideration of a proposed ordinance amendment until its Jan. 4 meeting.
The proposed resolution would set a minimum of between 10 and 25 acres for land designated for conservation use.
A notice was sent to The McDuffie Progress, the county’s legal organ, to announce the date of a public hearing on the amendment, but the announcement was not printed, said County Manager Don Norton.
The commissioners voted to discuss the issue at their next meeting to give county residents the opportunity to express their opinions before the board.
A public hearing will take place at 10 a.m. at the beginning of the Wednesday, Jan. 4, commission meeting. Though there is no requirement to have public hearings, some ordinances impact people too much to be decided without one, Norton said.
“This actually could have a financial impact on some of our citizens,” he said. “We want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to address it and say what their concerns might be.”
The resolution would require a landowner to have a minimum of 10 acres of land designated for conservation use to qualify for a tax exemption, said Linda Thurmond, chief appraiser in the McDuffie County Tax Assessors office.
“The whole point is that conservation use is meant for people who are farming or for other agricultural use, not a home site,” she said. “If you don’t qualify for conservation use, you don’t qualify for the reduced benefit.”
Landowners with fewer than 10 acres who are already included in the covenant would be grandfathered in.
In other business, the board is seeking county residents to serve on two boards – the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority Inc. and the McDuffie County Hospital Authority.
They will accept nominations for both positions at the Jan. 4 meeting. Names of nominees should be submitted to Penny Salley, the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners’ clerk, at the government center office at 210 Railroad St.
According to a letter from the executive director of the EOA, the group is “responsible for setting goals, policies, direction and making other major decisions relative to creating a better life for the disadvantaged population of Augusta-Richmond County and the CSRA Community as a whole.”
The EOA position is for a representative from the public sector who resides in McDuffie County, Norton said.
According to a letter submitted from hospital CEO Doug Keir, the vacancy on the hospital authority was caused by the resignation of Renee Wright.
The authority has submitted Ned Harbeson for possible consideration to fill the open position.
The commissioners also approved an agreement for the former tax assessor’s office to be leased by World Finance Corporation of Georgia.
The five-year lease went into effect retroactively beginning Dec. 1 and ending Nov. 30, 2016. It also grants World Finance the option of a five-year renewal.
World Finance will pay the county $1,500 for rent each month beginning Feb. 1. The lease also includes a 5 percent escalator provision every three years to account for inflation.
The county’s attorney and the attorney for World Finance collaborated for several weeks to create a document favorable to both parties.
County Manager Don Norton told the commissioners he felt comfortable recommending it for approval.
“I think it is in the best interest of the county to approve,” he said. “We could certainly use the revenue stream.”