ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - A Dougherty County road will no longer be open to the public.
This has many concerned access to old, historic cemeteries won’t be open either.
Although it’s typically quiet, the Wildfair Road and Blue Springs Road intersection has actually been the center of controversy in Dougherty County. County Commissioners decided Monday to close a one mile portion of Blue Springs Road.
But first, they heard from several people concerned they wouldn’t be able to get to cemeteries with the road closure.
Birds, horses and tractors — the only things that seem to be coming and going on the dirt roads outside of the Blue Springs Plantation.
But that’s not necessarily the case.
“My main concern is access,” Clinton Trice, a concerned neighbor, said.
Trice has family members buried in the old, historic cemeteries on the plantation owners’ properties out in Dougherty County. Trice said he’s worried he won’t be able to get to his loved ones’ graves for much longer.
“I’ve seen this happen on the other side of my family where it starts out one way where the gates are open and this and that. But down the road, they get shut off,” Trice said.
On behalf of plantation owners, Marty Adams asked commissioners to close a one mile portion of the Blue Springs Road.
Adams said people ride the dirt roads for fun, throwing beer cans and trash out of the windows as they go. Adams said keeping the road open is now a safety issue with people using the property to shoot guns.
“Now the young man says he shot it in the air, the ground, straightaway, but that’s what he was doing,” said Adams.
Adams outlined for commissioners and neighbors the roads they can use to get to the gates around the cemeteries.
Adams also said he’ll put his phone number outside of the gates for anyone to call and be let in if they’re closed.
Trice and other neighbors said as long as they can get in the gates, they’re fine with the closure.
“The main thing is accessibility to get in there,” Trice said.
The road closure passed in a 5-1 vote. Commissioner Gloria Gaines was the only one to vote against closing the road.
Commissioners also agreed the land owners will now take over all maintenance of the closed road.
Meaning the county will not have to spend money on the one mile portion.
Dougherty County leaders announced Monday a potential property tax increase — but that’s only if your property values increased this year.
Commissioners said if you live in Dougherty County, you will not see a rollback on your millage rate this year. Commissioners also said if your property values have not increased, you will not a see an increase in your property taxes either.
Commissioners voted to keep the millage rate the same this year at 15.569 mills. That means if a homes’ value increased to $100,000, an extra $3.50 will be paid in property taxes.
Ed Wall, the county’s financial adviser, said they don’t want to lose any revenue by doing the rollback now.
Especially, Wall pointed out, after the county had to raise the millage rate last year.
“If we lower the millage rate, we’re not taking advantage of the growth we’ve got, the new jobs and the new investment in the community. And we’re setting ourselves up to have to raise the taxes really later on,” Wall said.
Gaines was the only vote not in favor of keeping the millage rate the same.
You may also see a small property tax increase if you live in Dougherty County’s Special Services District.
County Commissioners want to keep that millage rate the same as last year, which is 9.173 mills.
This means if your property values have gone up, your property taxes will also increase. For example, if you have a home valued at $125,000, you’ll pay an extra $0.58 in taxes.
“The county’s worked hard at getting new industrial development, new public utility development," Wall said. “And that growth in the tax digest, if we leave the millage rate the same, we’ll be able to collect a little bit extra money,.”
You will also have three chances to voice your concerns or learn more about the potential property tax increase. The first public hearing to discuss the millage rate will be Monday, July 29 at 10 a.m.