At a Jan. 4 meeting, the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners approved an amendment to a county ordinance that sets a 10-acre minimum for conservation use.
The amendment sets a minimum of 10 acres per tract in order for a property to qualify as conservation use, which is assessed at a lower tax rate. Smaller tracts may also qualify if they adjoin and are used in conjunction with a qualifying property and are owned by the same person.
Smaller properties that currently qualify as conservation use land will be grandfathered in as long as they are used for agricultural purposes and are approved by the board of assessors.
“An important clause to me is the grandfathering of anyone who currently has smaller tracts,” said chairman Charlie Newton.
In other business, the board approved the addition of a referendum to the ballot at a special election to be held July 31. Residents will vote on the addition of one cent to the sales tax for transportation projects under the Transportation Investment Act 2010.
It is a regional tax that is currently collected in 13 counties. Twenty-five percent of monies collected will be returned to participating cities and counties to be used at their discretion, as long as it meets a transportation need, Newton said. The remaining 75 percent will fund major regional projects.
“With the current state of the state’s finances, the Department of Transportation simply does not have funding to move these projects forward in our region,” Newton said. “While this is an additional penny, I think it is much-needed and I would encourage our citizens to approve it.”
Commissioner Paul McCorkle asked that the board explore the issue of litter on the roadways, which he said has increased since the county stopped using prisoners to pick up litter last year.
Options mentioned include using prisoners from other counties, asking volunteers to help take care of the problem and requiring litter control as community service. Because each option has benefits and drawbacks, the board agreed to further discuss the matter at future meetings.
“I ask a plea to our citizens to please cover your loads, please have pride in your community and not litter,” Newton said.
Also, investigator Larry Adaway was recognized for 20 years of service with the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Department.
Kelly Evans was appointed to the board of the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority. Evans is the current executive director of the East Georgia Housing Authority Partnership.
The board appointed Penny Salley to continue as county clerk.
Sammy Fowler was reappointed as interim county attorney. Fowler has requested that the board search for a replacement to allow him to retire, Newton said.