Muscogee County, Georgia

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Muscogee County is one of 159 counties in Georgia. Its county seat is Columbus. Muscogee County merged governments with the city of Columbus in 1971 and became the first of its kind in Georgia (and one of only 16 in the U.S. at the time).

Evaluation of website

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Budget
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Elected Officials
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Administrative Officials
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Transparency grading process


Main article: Evaluation of Georgia county websites

The good

  • The current budget is published.[1]
  • Audit reports are published.[2]
  • Sales tax information is provided.[3]
  • The names and contact information for all administrative officials are provided.[4]
  • The names and contact information for all city council members are provided.[5]
  • Information on Building permits and zoning is provided.[6][7]
  • City council meeting schedules and video of meetings are provided.[8][9]

The bad

Budget

The proposed FY2012 budget for Columbus/Muscogee, at $255 million, would cut about 8.66 percent, or more than $24 million, from what was spent in 2011.[10][11] The complete proposal, coming in at 212 pages, can be viewed online.[12]


Stimulus

The city of Columbus applied for $5 million in stimulus funds (prior to the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) in 2009, to build facilities to attract National Cash Register (NCR), a major employer located in Ohio at the time. This, along with NCR's 2009 announcement that facilities would move to several Georgia cities, sparked calls for an investigation into the appropriation.[13] The U.S. Department of Commerce ultimately rejected Columbus' request for the money.[14]

Public Employees

Elected Officials

Title Name Salary Term ends Miscellaneous
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson unknown 2010 Teresa Tomlinson on Facebook
Councilmember Dist. 1 Jerry "Pops" Barnes unknown 2014 Jerry "Pops" Barnes on Facebook
Councilmember Dist. 2 Glenn Davis unknown 2012 Glenn Davis on Facebook
Councilmember Dist. 3 Bruce Huff unknown 2014 Bruce Huff website
Councilmember Dist. 4 Evelyn Turner Pugh unknown 2012 epugh@columbusga.org
Councilmember Dist. 5 Mike Baker unknown 2014 mbaker@columbusga.org
Councilmember Dist. 6 Gary Allen unknown 2012 gallen@columbusga.org
Councilmember Dist. 7 Evelyn "Mimi" Woodson unknown 2014 Evelyn "Mimi" Woodson website
Councilmember Dist. 8 C.E. "Red" McDaniel unknown 2012 rmcdaniel@columbusga.org
Councilmember Post 9 At-Large Judy Thomas unknown 2014 Judy Thomas on Facebook
Councilmember Post 10 At-Large Berry "Skip" Henderson unknown 2012 skiphenderson@columbusga.org


Administrative Officials

Title Name Salary
City Manager Isaiah Hugley unknown
Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin unknown
Deputy City Manager David Arrington unknown
Assistant to the City Manager/311 Citizens Service Center Manager Liz Turner unknown
Tax Commissioner Lula Huff unknown
Director, Board of Tax Assessors Betty Middleton unknown
Internal Auditor John Redmond unknown
Director of Finance Pamela Hodge unknown


Salaries

See also: Georgia state government salary


Pensions

See also: Georgia public pensions


The General Government Pension Plan is a Defined Benefit Pension Plan that is based on a formula that uses age, service and salary. An employee becomes eligible to participate in the Pension Plan effective on his/her date of employment. The City contributes 100% in the Pension Plan for the employee. This same plan is available to Public Safety employees.

Columbus also offers Deferred Compensation, under IRS Code 457, to employees. This 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.

A full list of employee benefits is found on the Human Resources website.[15]

Emergency personnel

On May 16, 2011, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson requested that the county government assess the economic feasibility of combining the Muscogee County Sheriff’s and Marshal’s departments.[16]. The sheriff's office is affiliated with the state and superior courts in Georgia, while the marshal's office serves the municipal court in Columbus. Twenty-five Georgia counties have marshal's offices, though the Muscogee County has police powers specific to that office unlike other marshal's offices. The Ledger-Enquirer reported that Marshal Greg Countryman and Sheriff John Darr agree that studying consolidation would be a good idea, though they differ on whether consolidation should ultimately take place. The study could cost the city about $60,000 to $70,000.

Lobbying

See also: Georgia government sector lobbying


No records for lobbyists affiliated with Columbus or Muscogee County could be found at OpenSecrets.org or at the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission website.

Transparency & public records

The Columbus website, http://www.columbusga.org/, received a C- from Sunshine Review for transparency. No information for obtaining public records or filing public information requests is available.

Taxes

Ad valorem tax, more commonly known as property or millage tax, is a large source of revenue for local government in Georgia. The basis for ad valorem taxation is the fair market value of the property which is established as of January 1 of each year. The tax is levied on the assessed value of the property which, by law, is established at 40% of fair market value. The amount of tax is determined by the tax rate (mill rate) levied by City Council (one mill is equal to $1.00 for each $1,000 of assessed value, or .001). Tax exemption information is found on the Columbus Tax Assessor website.[17]


External links

References