MoCo Commission Names Citizens Tax Committee
The Montgomery County Commission held a called meeting on Monday, October 16, to approve the committee of citizens who will work with two commissioners to review the pros and cons of the possible floating homestead exemption act.
The creation of this committee was first discussed during the Commission’s regular monthly work session on Thursday, October 5, as both citizens and commissioners discussed differing perspectives on the possibility of enacting a floating homestead exemption act in the county. This act would allow homeowners to “freeze” their assessed home values, which would protect them from extreme increases of taxes caused by inflation.
During the initial discussion, commissioners shared their concern that allowing this floating tax exemption would cause large land tract owners, such as farmers and business owners, to have a greater tax burden that would deter them from settling in the county — even with protection that came from prior legislation.
After a while of discussing the issue, the work session attendees requested that the Commission create a citizens committee to hear the thoughts and concerns of homeowners, farmers, and business owners all within one space. The commissioners agreed to the idea, stating the committee would be composed of three homeowners, three large land track owners (farmers), two business owners, and two commissioners.
During the called meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved the appointment of citizens to the committee. Those citizens include homeowners Zellene Robinson, David Moncus, and Bob McKenzie; large land tract owners Sam Baker, Brian Myers, and Charlie Robison; and commercial property owners Al Johnson and Matt Waller. Neither the meeting date of the committee nor the two commissioners appointed to the committee were announced.
Other Decisions Energy Services Commissioners also selected the engineering firm to complete an energy audit of the county’s facilities to determine areas where the County may cut spending through energy efficiency.
This selection comes over a month after the Commission listened to a presentation by ABM Industries Bundled Energy Solutions Account Manager Greg Icard, who addressed the commissioners about funding through energy savings to help address aging facilities. He said that the most important problems facing local governments right now – in his experience – are aging infrastructure, jobs and economic development, affordable housing, and transportation. He shared that in his experience, local governments struggle with lack of funding for infrastructure, lack of staff capacity, and lack of data on how to proceed. “That’s where we come in,” Icard emphasized.
According to his own preliminary study, Icard projected that the County would need to spend $417,582 on replacements of assets in the next five years, $111,357 in the next six to 10 years, and $189,580 in the next 11 to 15 years because of aging HVAC units, necessary courthouse repairs, maintenance, and more. He shared that energy conservation improvements could be made through transitioning to LED lighting fixtures, building automation systems, HVAC upgrades, building envelope enhancements, indoor air quality improvements, and water conservation.
Icard informed the Commissioners that utilizing ABM Building Solutions’ capital planning, the cost of replacing assets would be more streamlined between $800,000 and $400,000 over the next 15 years, rather than spike and fall between $3,500,000 and $1,000,000 over this time. This is done by inventorying and grading all assets, creating a needsbased long-term capital plan, providing solution influence that allows County leaders to make well-informed decisions, and helping to identify operational, maintenance, and repair savings.
After hearing the presentation, the commissioners voted to issue a Request for Qualifications, which allows all energy savings firms 30 days to submit their qualifications to the County in an attempt to be awarded the project. Two firms responded – ABM Energy Solutions and MG. At the called meeting on October 16, commissioners selected ABM Energy Solutions to complete the work, citing their presence and office in Georgia as justification for the decision, as MG has only performed two projects in Georgia. Commissioners also shared that they had local resident David Moncus – a former energy solutions engineer for Plant Hatch – to review the proposals and qualifications, and he also supported choosing ABM over MG.
Now that the firm has been selected, a comprehensive energy audit of all county buildings will be completed. ABM will help to discover areas where energy savings may be maximized, and will help with funding and grants to finance the repairs of facilities in the county.
Overall, the county’s goals in this endeavor are: seeking proactive buildings and facilities upgrades with minimal impact to the current budget, installing centralized HVAC control or building automation systems, managing energy consumption and spending, drafting an immediate preventive maintenance plan, completing courthouse infrastructure upgrades that need to be addressed as soon as possible, locating a funding pathway for EMS building, creating a long-term strategic plan for facilities, and understanding cost of action now versus inaction, which could cause higher future costs and reduced potential success. Tire Reimbursement Agreement Commissioners closed the meeting by approving the annual Local Government Scrap Tire Abatement Reimbursement Program grant agreement with the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
This agreement allows the County to receive reimbursement for scrap tires turned in during the annual Tire Amnesty, where residents may turn in unwanted used tires for free. This grant usually brings in around $16,000 to the County, as it maximizes the opportunity.
The exact date of this year’s Tire Amnesty event will be determined in the coming weeks; however, commissioners announced that residents may expect the event to occur this December.