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School debt, short-term rentals aired at board meeting
FCN Forsyth County Administration Building

At a regular meeting on Thursday, Nov. 18, Forsyth County Commissioners voted to levy and collect an annual ad valorem tax to provide funds for the school board, saving taxpayers over $7 million. Commissioners also held the first of two public hearings for the modifications for the short-term rental and stormwater management ordinances.

 

Ad Valorem Tax

Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution brought by the Forsyth County Board of Education, which County Attorney Ken Jarrard said would allow the school system to refinance its debts to save Forsyth County taxpayers a sum of $7.17 million.

Jarrard said the Board of Education has old debt to pay from 2013 and 2014 and by approving the resolution, the board could “get a better rate based upon, hopefully, lowered interest rates that saves the taxpayers money.”

“That is what the Board of Education is doing here,” Jarrard said. “It is basically some debt from 2013 and 2014 that is of a principal amount of $100 million and some change that they can in fact refund for a face amount of about $109 million.”

“[The Board of Education] went out to market their bonds and had extraordinarily strong demand,” he said. “They have a AAA rating from Moody’s and S&P and therefore were able to leverage an interest rate 10 basis points lower than they thought, resulting in a cumulative savings of $7.17 million.”

Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills asked if the resolution had anything to do with the BOE’s recent E-SPLOST which passed in early November.

Jarrard said this was not necessarily “new debt” but “obligations [that the Board of Education is] already on the hook for; they have just come up with a way to save the taxpayers money on the way they’re paying it back.”

 

Short-term rentals

Commissioners held the first of two public hearings about proposed modifications to Ordinance 129, known as the short-term rental ordinance.

Jarrard said the ordinance would only apply to those operating short-term rental facilities in the agriculture (A1) or agricultural residential (Ag-Res) districts that have received a short-term rental conditional-use permit, or CUP

The change would reflect in the county’s code of ordinances that only the permits would only be allowed for agricultural zoning categories and that all short-term rentals would not be allowed unless owners are in full compliance with the code of ordinances and the county’s unified development code.

Jarrard said there are operators in A1 and Ag-Res districts that believe “they might be grandfathered in” and that the board has not addressed those situations.

“I believe the better play [right now] is to simply make it absolutely clear that the [short-term rental] permitting mechanism only has applicability to those that have … received a [conditional-use permit] for [short-term rental] activity and are in [agricultural] and [agricultural residential districts],” Jarrard said.

Mills asked if individuals operating and advertising their short-term rental facilities without having received a permit is illegal. Jarrard said that would be considered “impermissible.”

The purpose of the short-term rental ordinance is to “establish standards …, minimize adverse effects of … uses on surrounding residential neighborhoods and preserve the character of neighborhoods.”

The ordinance does not regulate hotels, motels, inns or any other non-vacation type of rental agreements.

Stormwater management

Commissioners held the first of two public hearings for proposed modifications to the county’s stormwater management code to ensure compliance with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s model ordinance.

Renee Hoge from the county’s department of engineering presented the item, explaining that the recent updates to the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit have resulted in the need to update existing regulations.

Regulations needing an update include the need to “retain the first … inch of rainfall on the site to the maximum extent predictable and develop a practicability policy” and the application “of stormwater management standards to linear transportation projects (roads) and develop a feasibility program.”

District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent said that to help HOAs that take over their neighborhoods’ storm watermanagement from developers, the county’s website has the ordinance, addendums and other information published online at www.forsythco.com under the Department of Engineering tab.