August 3, 2020 — Commission Chairman Phillip Beard called the August meeting for the City of Buford Board of Commissioners to order at 7 p.m. at the Buford City Arena. Following the pledge, the agenda and the July meeting minutes were approved. The Commission voted to change September’s meeting date to Tuesday, September 8, 2020, due to Labor Day. Wayne Johnson and Homer Whiting were re-appointed to the Planning and Zoning board. The Commission voted to approve an ordinance and resolution calling for a special election to allow voters of the City of Buford to vote on whether they would like for a homestead exemption from certain city ad valorem taxes and other purposes. This will appear on the November 3 ballot and all city residents must vote on this resolution at the Buford City Hall. This is a local election for Buford residents.
The Commission held a public hearing for the fiscal year 2021 operating budget. The proposed budget for the upcoming year which runs July through June and includes several infrastructure improvement projects, completion of the parking deck and Phase II of Legion Fields renovation. The draft total operating budget for fiscal year 2021 is $163,191,795 compared with $143,700.815 in the prior year. The largest single increase for expenditures will be in the water department due to building the new waterworks plant.
The Commission also held a public hearing regarding the city’s 2020 property tax millage rate rollback and proposed tax increase. For city residents in Gwinnett County, the millage rate will be rolled back from 12.70 mills in 2019 to 12.650 mills in 2020. Although the millage rate is technically rolled back, due to property assessments increasing, this will still result in an increase in property taxes of 9.33. This will cost a homeowner who has a home worth $275,000 an extra $118.80 a year. For city residents in Hall County, their taxes will increase by 2.73 percent with the millage rate set at 12.650 mills. A homeowner with a home valued at $250,000 will see an increase of $33.60 per year. Another official public hearing for the proposed millage rollback and tax increase will be on September 8, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.
Three Construction Fund Custodians were designated for the Buford Series 2020 Water and Sewer bonds. Chairman Beard abstained. An exemption was approved which will allow Tipton Home Builders, LLC to skip installing curb, gutter, and sidewalks at 4200 Thompson Mill Road as the county would not improve the right-of-way. A certificate of occupancy and site plan improvements including fencing for the property located at 510 Bona Road were approved.
The Commission authorized the City Manager to enter into an agreement with Stonehedge Garden Club and Jim Bradford, Artist to design and install a sculpture in the amphitheater park located on Main Street in front of the Bona Allen Mansion. The Stonehedge Garden Club raised over $11,000 to get the sculpture, the city will be donating the platform in which the sculpture will rest.
Bare Bones asked the city to lease a portion of sidewalk located on South Harris Street for their new location in order to offer outside dining. There is a lower sidewalk remaining for pedestrians. The Commission voted to approve the lease and moved to transfer the property to the Downtown Development Authority to take bids to sell referenced sidewalk to limit the liability of the City. The City Manager and the City Attorney were authorized to enter into an agreement to purchase property located on Main Street. Natural gas tap fee charges were approved. The Commission voted to approve the best bid for new service installation and renewal construction services for the City of Buford natural gas department.
The first payment for the Church Street stormwater improvement project was approved. Payment #5 was approved for the Buford multi-use trail project. The 10th payment for the legion fields improvements project was approved, as well as, payment #22 for the Buford parking deck project.
City Manager Bryan Kerlin gave his report to update the business of the city. Legion Field improvements phase one has seen the certificate of occupancy issued. Coaches and players took to the available fields during the week of August 10. The Fall little league season has had a good turnout for children signing up to play. A meeting will be held shortly to begin working on the second phase of the legion field renovation project.
Buford will see money from the CARES Act which will go towards city expenses due to COVID-19.
The parking deck still has some bridgework to be done, as well as, streetscaping. The waterworks expansion project will move into the bidding phase with notice to proceed projected in late 2020. The gas, sewer, and street departments have numerous projects in various states of completion.
Chairman Beard adjourned the August 2020 meeting after no one had any additional business to bring before the Commission.
— Staff Reports