The McDuffie County Board of Commissioners again discussed the proposed Fire Fee during its Aug. 17 meeting.

A called meeting was held on Tuesday, earlier this week, for the first reading of the proposed legislation. That meeting occurred after press time for this edition of The McDuffie Progress.

During the Aug. 17 meeting, County Manager David Crawley provided insight into the proposed Fire Fee. According to Crawley, the Public Safety Committee looked at an option of land use base fee with a risk factor.

“So it was going to be a flat fee for residential of $82.05 a year, commercial had a minimum fee of $197.31 with a maximum fee of $406.74, and undeveloped parcels all had a fee of $22.79,” Crawley said.

Crawley said the Public Safety Committee recommended going to a fee based on structure size and land area.

“So working through that, there was established a three cent per square foot,” Crawley said. “Originally we had a minimum rate that was based on minimum square footage of 900 square feet that went to 9,000 square feet, is the maximum.”

Crawley said the consulting firm that has been working on this as well, suggested that a minimum square footage of 1,000 square feet on single family residential, with a maximum square footage of 4,000 square feet on single family residential.

“So the three cent per square foot minimum rate of $30, maximum rate of $120,” Crawley said.

According to Crawley, the price would remain the same per square foot for non single family residential, but the minimum rate would be based on a minimum size of 4,000 square feet, with a maximum size of 100,000 square feet. The cost would roughly be $120 to $3,000. Parcel acreage is $2.84 per acre, per year, with a cap of 75 acres, according to Crawley. The minimum fee for a single family residential size of 1,000 square feet on one acre would be $32.84, and a maximum fee based on a 4,000 square foot structure and 75 acres would be $333, Crawley added.

Crawley said a non single family residential would have a minimum fee of $122.84, and a maximum fee of $3,213. On raw land, one acre would cost $2.84, and 75 acres would cost $213. The board will look to roll the mill rate back, according to Newton.

According to Crawley, in 2019 the county had a mill rate of 8.8, and right now a millage rollback of 7.801 is being proposed. The board didn’t vote on the Fire Fee, and were only having a discussion on it. Prior to the start of the Aug. 17 meeting, there was a public hearing on a variance request for solar land use at 2713 Pine Forest Drive in Dearing.

According to Chase Beggs, Planning and Zoning Director, if the owner wants to install solar panels on the roof, then they cannot be visible from the rightaway.

“The solar company said that the rays, I guess they needed the panels on the front to catch and maximize rays, and the planning board voted to deny it,” Beggs said.

Beggs said the Planning Board felt if they approved one, then they would have approve a lot more. The Planning Board made a motion to deny the variance request.

The board discussed the consideration to accept the Planning Board’s recommendation on the variance request for 2713 Pine Forest Drive. The motion was made to uphold the Planning Board’s decision to deny the request. Bill Jopling, commissioner, voted to oppose this item because he wanted to further look at the solar land use ordinance. The board talked about the Land Bank Agreement.

According to David Crawley, County manager, the board got the land bank started again, and appointed new members in coordination with the city. The city attorney, and county attorney came back with an amended intergovenrment agreement between the county and the city for the land bank authority.

“That brings us into compliance with the changes and law since the land bank last met,” Crawley said. “The land bank has met one time, and is well aware of these changes and staff recommends approval.”

The board voted to approve this item. The board discussed the consideration to approve a supplement for the District Attorney’s Office. According to Charlie Newton, Chairman, Bill Doupé, Toombs County District Attorney, asked for a supplement to come from the circuit to make salary adjustments for the employees in his office.

“We reached out to all of the other counties in the circuit,” Newton said. “The total he asked for was for $60,000.”

Newton said the McDuffie part will be $24,840 out of the $60,000.

“All of the other counties have agreed to pay their portion of that,” Newton said.

According to Newton, this will be for the six assistant DAs and will be divided among those positions. The board voted to approve the supplement for the DAs office. Fred Favors, commissioner, said he doesn’t have a problem with this, but he did have a problem with supplementing state employees and not county employees.

“Though I have no problem with any of those employees there, it just doesn’t seem well for me and the morale of our county employees,” Favors said. “I’m hopeful that as we move forward, we’ll at least try move toward helping our county employees get at least a living wage a year.”

Favors ended his statement opposing this item. The board talked about the date change for the September work session. According to Crawley, the work session falls on the week of a holiday.

Crawley said they will not have the meeting but they will have several special call meetings due to the timing of the school board’s approval of the millage. The board voted to approve this item.