Athens, Georgia

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Athens is a city in Georgia. It is the county seat of Clarke County. Athens-Clarke County is a unified city–county in Georgia, U.S., in the northeastern part of the state. In 1991, the original city abandoned its charter in order to form a unified government with Clarke County, referred to collectively as Athens-Clarke County. As of the 2010 census, the consolidated city-county (including all of Athens-Clarke County except Winterville and a portion of Bogart) had a total population of 115,452. Athens-Clarke County is the fifth-largest city in Georgia.


Website evaluation

Grade2.pngB-
Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits
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Contracts P
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Lobbying N
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Public Records P
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Local Taxes Y
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Transparency grading process

See also: Evaluation of Georgia city websites


The good

  • Budgets are posted.[1]
  • Meeting agendas, schedule and minutes are posted[2] and videos of the meetings can be watched online.
  • The Commissioners and their contact information are listed[3].
  • Administrative names and contact information is available[4].
  • The contact information needed to obtain a building permit is available. Zoning and Development Information is also available.[5][6]
  • Property tax information and a way to pay taxes online are available[7][8].
  • Bids and contract opportunities are posted.[9] Vendor and procurement information is also posted.[10]
  • The Planning Department has an Open Records Request form; general information about requesting public records for the county is not available.[6]

The bad

Budget

On April 29, 2011, the Mayor submitted a recommended operating and capital budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011. The proposal did not include a property tax rate increase or increase in public employee compensation. The proposal includes a General Fund Operating Budget of $104.0 million for FY12, $800,000 less than the FY11 Budget. The operating budget for all other funds totals $167.4 million. The capital budget for all funds is $10.1 million. The total operating and capital budget for FY12 is $177.4 million.

Stimulus

In January 2011, a blog called "Trees in Cities" reported that Athens would plant the trees purchased with $30,000 in federal stimulus funding the Athens-Clarke Landscape Management Division received in 2010, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.[11]

The Athens Housing Authority received $2 million in economic stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.[12]

Public Employees

The local government is headed by an elected mayor and 10 elected commissioners from 8 geographical districts and 2 super-districts covering districts 1–4 and 5–8. The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County's day to day operations are overseen by a manager appointed by the Mayor and Commission. There are 26 main departments, divisions and offices under the managerial group.

Elected Officials

Title Name Salary First elected Miscellaneous
Mayor Nancy Denson unknown 2010 Mayor Nancy Denson page
Commissioner Dist. 1 Doug Lowry unknown 2006 Doug Lowry page
Commissioner Dist. 2 Harry Sims unknown 1992 Harry Sims page
Commissioner Dist. 3 George C. Maxwell unknown 2002 George Maxwell page
Commissioner Dist. 4 Alice Kinman unknown 2004 Alice Kinman page
Commissioner Dist. 5 Jared Bailey unknown 2010 Jared Bailey page
Commissioner Dist. 6 Ed Robinson unknown 2008 Ed Robinson page
Commissioner Dist. 7 Kathy Hoard unknown 2002 Kathy Hoard page
Commissioner Dist. 8 Andy Herod unknown 2006 Andy Herod page
Commissioner Dist. 9 Kelly Girtz unknown 2006 Kelly Girtz page
Commissioner Dist. 10 Mike Hamby unknown 2008 Mike Hamby page

Administrative Officials

Title Department Name Salary Appointed/Hired
Director Finance Department John Culpepper unknown unknown
Athens-Clarke County Attorney Attorney's Office William (Bill) C. Berryman Jr unknown unknown
Supervisor of Elections & Voter Registration Board of Elections Gail Schrader unknown unknown
President/CEO Economic Development Foundation Matt Forshee unknown unknown
Clerk Clerk of Commission Jean Spratlin unknown unknown
Director Human Resources Harry E. Owens unknown unknown
Manager Manager W. Alan Reddish unknown 2001
Chief Appraiser Tax Assessor Kirk Dunagan unknown 2011
Tax Commissioner Tax Commissioner's Office Mitch Schrader unknown unknown
Director Transportation & Public Works David Clark unknown unknown

Salaries

See also: Georgia public employee salaries


Pensions

See also: Georgia public pensions

Deferred compensation, under IRS Code 457, is a tax deferred supplemental retirement program that allows public employees to contribute a portion of their salary, before federal and state taxes, to a retirement account. Athens-Clarke County employees are eligible to enroll in the deferred compensation plans on the first day of their employment. ACC also offers a deferred compensation package with a 1% (401a) match on the first 4% of salary contributed to a 457 plan.

The ACC Pension Plan is designed to provide a monthly retirement income in addition to other retirement savings plans and Social Security which an employee may be eligible to receive. An employee is vested in the plan after completing 10 consecutive years of credited service.

Emergency personnel

The Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services Department employs 185 certified and five civilian employees. The fire chief is Iby George.[13]

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department has an authorized strength of 242 sworn positions, 63 civilian positions, and 28 crossing guards. The chief of police is Joseph H. Lumpkin, Sr.[14] The Athens-Clarke County Police Department can be found on Facebook.

Lobbying

See also: Georgia government sector lobbying


No information was found on OpenSecrets.org or the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission website for lobbyists contracted with Athens-Clarke County.

Transparency & public records

Sunshine Review has rated the Athens-Clarke County website a "B-" for transparency.

An open records request form is available on the Athens-Clarke County website.

Taxes

Athens-Clarke County collects the following taxes:

  • Alcoholic Beverage Excise Tax: This tax includes excise taxes collected by the wholesaler on beer, wine, and liquor
  • Business Occupation Tax Certificate: The certificate includes the registration of over 5,000 businesses located in Athens-Clarke County and the annual assessment and collection of all occupation taxes from each business
  • Hotel-Motel Tax: Each month the over 20 hotels and/or motels in Athens-Clarke County collect and remit a 7% occupancy tax to the Finance Department
  • Mixed Drink Excise Tax: A 3% tax is added to all mixed drinks for the roughly 120 establishments in Athens-Clarke County
  • Motor Vehicle Rental Tax: An excise tax of 3% is collected on the rental of motor vehicles
  • Property Taxes: Property taxes are collected by the Tax Commissioner’s Office and submitted to the Finance Department

- Each year, the Finance Department prepares a report comparing property taxes for Athens-Clarke County, contiguous counties, and counties of similar size.

  • Sales Taxes: The sales tax rate for the county is $0.07 for every $1 of sales. The $0.07 sales tax is divided as follows:

- $0.04 State of Georgia - $0.01 Local Option Sales Tax / Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCUG) General Fund - $0.01 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax / ACCUG Capital Projects - $0.01 Education Special Purpose / Clarke County Schools Capital Projects - $0.07 Total

External links


References