VALDOSTA -- A small group of citizens heard a presentation on the fiscal year 2005 budget at the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday night.

Financial director Stephanie Black explained to citizens the expenditures and revenues of the $68,730,613 budget.

County resident Roberta George asked commissioners to consider purchasing several properties along North Oak Street to preserve the land and possibly make a park.

"If you have any money left in your budget, we would like you to consider buying the properties and creating a park," George said. "I hate to see all of the building that is all over this town. There are some beautiful trees on the properties, and it is such a haven from all the commercialization going on around us."

Commission Chairman Rod Casey said the state did give the county some money to preserve land. He said the county did consider some of that land off North Oak Street, but was able to buy more land for a smaller price in other areas of the county. Casey said the county would keep the property in mind.

"We are very sensitive to the issue, because we want to keep Lowndes beautiful," Casey said. "We are doing our best to preserve what we can."

Commissioners will have a second public hearing at 9 a.m. June 30. At the end of that hearing, the county will vote on whether to adopt the budget.

County Manager Joe Pritchard also asked the commissioners to approve an increase in the supervision fees to Georgia Probation Management for the handling of all probationary sentences in State Court. The increase would be from $30 to $35. In her letter to Pritchard, State Court Judge Kelly Turner said most state probation fees in the state range between $35 to $45. The commissioners approved the request.

Pritchard also presented each of the commissioners with a framed artist's rendition of the Lowndes County Judicial/Administrative Building. A larger portrait stands inside the doors of the commissioner's building off Savannah Avenue.

Commissioners also unanimously approved:

A request to approve a Beer, Wine and Package License for Suncoast KOA Campground in Lake Park

Steve Gupton as the Joint Appointment to the Lowndes County Zoning Board of Appeals

Cindy Vickery and Julia Lee to the South Georgia Community Service Board

John Akers and John Cookson to the Lowndes County Library Board

Lonnie Denton to the Department of Family and Children Services Board

A quotation for about $37,500 for engineering and drainage design services for Fred Walker Road, Mable Road and Susie Hayes Road. The exact amount will be determined by actual construction cost of project and will come from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 5 funds.

The low bid of $231,707.58 from Rountree Construction Company for paving on Quail Nest Drive. The money will come from SPLOST 5 funds.

The proposal of $12,838.70 for professional services by ASA Engineering of Valdosta for design, monitoring and reporting as required by federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requirements for the county construction projects for Railroad Avenue, Central Avenue, Quillian Street and Hunter Street. The money would come from SPLOST 5 funds.

Permission to change Internet service providers for the county from Sprint to MediaCom. The money is budgeted in the annual budget.

A variance request for water and sewer purposes for 10 acres off St. Augustine Road.

An agreement between Lowndes County and the City of Valdosta to distribute Hotel-Motel Tax funding for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center and Tourism Authority.

An agreement between Lowndes County, the City of Hahira and the City of Valdosta for the funding and operation of the zoning administration office and the provision of zoning administration services for Valdosta, Hahira and unincorporated Lowndes County.

The commissioners also went into executive session to discuss real estate.

To contact reporter Michelle Taylor, please call 229-244-3400, ext. 245.

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