Cartersville-Bartow Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) transportation planner Tom Sills was the bearer of good news for Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor at Wednesday morning’s public meeting.
“We are pleased to announce that there’s been some additional funding authorized by the federal government to take care of the loss of ridership as most of our transit operations continue,” he said. “To make up for those costs, they have supplied us a supplemental 5311 (rural area) contract of around $636,567.”
The additional funding from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is expected to cover the local transit program’s operating costs from January to July of this year. The amended contract approved by Taylor also includes an additional $200,387 in 5307 (urbanized area) transit funding, which will also be used to cover operational expenses; that amended contract tweak also includes an additional $1,275 for capital.
“Both of these contracts are coming to us with a 100% reimbursement from the federal government at no cost to the Bartow County taxpayers,” Sills said.
Taylor also approved a slate of fiscal year 2019 budget general fund amendments.
“This is what we do every year after the auditor makes a few adjustments,” said Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson. “They have to reallocate some line items here and there when we get our final insurance bill, pension bill and other things.”
Overall, Olson said the general fund budget ended up being adjusted upward to the tune of roughly $150,000.
“There’s about seven departments that got tweaked and a few of the separate funds got tweaked,” he said. “Some of it reflects more revenue than we anticipated, so you have to adjust your budget to accommodate more revenue. But we had a good year — our audit showed we added about $2 million to the fund balance.”
An agreement with Gainesville-based Mansfield Energy Corp. was also approved by Taylor.
“When the oil market went crazy a month or so ago, and actually futures contracts went negative, we reached out to our oil provider that services the landfill with diesel and asked them if they would give us a hedge contract for a year’s worth of fuel at a reduced price,” Olson said. “So we’re hedged now, from August of this year through July of next year, at $1.44 a gallon. Prices have already bounced back up — I think we’ll have a significant savings from that.”
Taylor likewise applied his signature to an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Cartersville, which would pave the way for a new boat launch into the Etowah River via Sam Smith Park.
“The proposal will be to come in off that existing gravel parking lot for the soccer fields that the City has and come out to the river,” Olson said. “It’s kind of a match to what we did at Hardin Bridge, the same kind of design.”
“We’ve revised the agreement and sent it back and forth, and I think everybody’s comfortable,” Olson said. “There’s been some questions about the parking, and we can always adjust that down the road.”
Olson said the County will be matching the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' grant with “in-kind” work.
“The budget’s around $200,000,” he said. “The City’s going to maintain it, it will be a City facility after we build it.”
Also approved was a series of Bartow County zoning ordinance amendments. Among other changes, the revisions create new definitions for what constitutes “truck terminals” and “travel plazas” and allows “cumulative zoning” in the County’s residential districts; that means R-2 and R-1 developments, for example, would be allowed in R-3 residential districts without an applicant required to file a rezoning request.
Taylor concluded the meeting by noting that Bartow’s Census response rate stood at 61.3% — a number that puts Bartow at No. 21 out of Georgia’s 159 counties.
“We’re really proud of that,” he said. “But we really need people to keep filling out those forms because every dollar counts as far as the Census goes for this community. It affects our grants — just about all the money that comes from the federal government depends on the Census, so we want to keep the good work up.”