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The Clinch County News
Homerville, Georgia
March 7, 2018     The Clinch County News
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March 7, 2018

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ilIH, nlli,l,l,mp ,ilp.lv,did.viIM,ihltl, March 7, 2018 -i Ihrgai.t oupo,l Peals INSIPE with these sales papers: By Len Robbins Editor/Publisher Clinch County officials are Very concerned about a bill being considered by the state legislature that would significantly alter how timberland acreage is valued. House Bill 85 was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives 162-2 Friday, and now goes before the Senate for approval. If approved, it would amend the state constitution and set up a new classification for timber tract valuation. Local officials fear that this change, if passed by the legislation, and then approved by voters in November, would drastically decrease tax revenues coming to counties from timber acreage. "It is highly likely that the value of timberland in Clinch County, (and all South Georgia) will decrease, which will burden local governments and likely result in raises to mileage rates and/or cuts Local officials fear legislation, if passed, could shift county tax burden to critical services," said Clinch Schools Superintendent Dr. Donna Ryan. "If millage rates are raised, then the tax burden of the timberland owners will be shifted to the residential landowners of Clinch County." Ryan said the act changes the FLPA (Forest Lands Protection Act) formula that reimburses counties for tax breaks provided to landowners who participate in the FLPA covenant. FLPA was approved in 2008, providing landowners who participate in the program a significant tax break. The state then reimburses counties for those lost funds. This past year, that meant the state had to reimburse counties in Georgia $47 million, including roughly $2 million to Clinch County taxing entities. State Representative John Corbett, who represents Clinch County in the House, said he has been assured the Senate will not move on the bill until local concerns about the bill's potential impact are addressed. "I got with the bill's author and he agreed not to move the bill in the Senate until he made sure the locals (governments) would not be hurt (by the bill)," said Corbett, who voted in favor of House Bill 85 Friday. Corbett said concerns, about FLPA came forward in 2016, when thestate Department of Reventle ruled on how counties would receive funds from FLPA. He said Clinch, Echols, and Charlton counties would have seen huge cuts in FLPA reimbursement under the DOR ruling. He said after legislators contacted the attorney general concerning the DOR ruling, the DOR pulled back plans for the change. He said that there are questions in some counties about how they are valuating timberland, which has prompted the legislature to consider the issue. "At this point, we aren't exactly sure what effect this would have on us, if passed," (Continued on Page 3) e Clinch County Panther teammates pile on top of Kyle Hendricks after he hit a game-winning, walk-off double to defeat Lanier County 6-5 Friday at Cecil Barber Field. Read more about the Panthers and their hot week on the diamond on Page 5 inside. By' Len Robbins Editor/Publisher There will be at least one contested local race in May in Clinch County. Monday was the first day of qualifying for county commission and board of election seats on the 2018 ballot. For the Clinch County Board of Education's Post 4 seat, incumbent Charlie Mae Cross qualified, as did challenger Doreen Oliver Johnson. That is the only contested race thus far in qualifying, which ends Friday at noon. No one had qualifed Monday for the Post 1 school board seat, currently held by Stanley Thrift. In the two county commission seats up for election this year, both the incumbents qualified Monday. Kenton McLaine qualified for re-election in Post 1, and Debra Thomas in Post 4. All four of the candidates who qualified Monday qualified in the Democratic primary, which will be held Tuesday, May 22. The general election is set for Tuesday, November 6. Monday was the first day of the qualifying period. Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp (second from left) speaks with Russ Goodman (second from right) in front of Richard's Meats & Seafood Wednesday. Kemp is running for governor and qualifying this week. By Len Robbins Editor/Publisher Secretary of State Brian Kemp brought his campaign for governor to Homerville and Clinch County Wednesday - his second stop here in his bid to be the state's next governor. "I've been to .all 159 counties during this campaign. I'm pretty sure I'm the only candidate that can say that," Kemp said during Wednesday's stop on his "Putting Georgians First Bus Tour" at Richard's Meats & Seafood in Homervillel "I've been telling peoPle about my tour stops in plan to strengthen rural Georgia. Rural Georgia does a lot for this state, and we need the next governor to recognize and appreciate that." Kemp spoke to supporters and Richard's customers during the bus tour stop. Kemp is one of several Republican candidates planning on qualifying this week to run" for governor in 2018. The primary for state offices will be held May 22, with the general election on November 6. "Early voting starts soon, so we're trying to get our message out to all parts of the state," Kemp said City Council chooses Leo Lankford as interim police chief By Len Robbins Editor/Publisher The Homerville City Council chose an interim police chief at a called meeting Thursday." Leo Lankford is starting this week as the interim chief after being approved by the City Council Thursday. Police Chief Lonnie Webb has been ill, and is current on medical leave, according to Homerville City Manager Nan Mikell. Lankford previously served as a deputy with the Clinch County Sheriffs Department. 0 0 0