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Commissioners talk recycle, SPLOST and more
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The Bryan County Board of Commissioners is gearing up for the year ahead, and members discussed countywide recycling, future Special Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax funds, the 2010 Census and more during the first meeting of 2011.
The recycling pilot program in a South Bryan subdivision is a success so far, commissioners said this week.
About 800 household in the Buckhead, Bukhead North and Buckhead South neighborhoods were chosen in mid-November for a curbside recycling pickup pilot program, and County Administrator Phil Jones said about 60 percent of households there are participating.
“[That’s] really pretty good,” he said during the commissioner’s meeting on Tuesday in Pembroke.
Republic Waste, the companying running the program, started picking up plastic, paper, aluminum, glass and other recyclables twice a month on Nov17. The board of commissioners agreed to participate in the free, three-month pilot program to see if countywide curbside recycling would be feasible.
Currently, Bryan County residents living in the unincorporated areas dispose of their recyclables by taking them to county landfills.
Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said he’s tired of hauling his recyclables to the landfill.
“[I’d] like to have it picked up,” he said.
If commissioners agree to implement a countywide curbside recycling program, it would cost residents between $33 and $34 a year, or between $2.75 and $2.83 per month, Jones said.
But since Republic Waste partners with Recycle Bank, a program that gives homeowners points redeemable as gift cards at local businesses per pound recycled, those bills will be offset by the awards, Jones added.
Commissioners will wait until the pilot program is finished before deciding whether a curbside recycling program should be implemented in the unincorporated parts of Bryan County, Burnsed said.

Burnsed told fellow commissioners Tuesday they need to form a committee to discuss the coming SPLOST vote slated for November as well as what projects should be included during the next six-year term.
The 1 percent addition to sales tax helps pays for construction and major infrastructure projects in Bryan County. Money generated from the tax has paid for a jail, a new county administration building, road resurfacing and other projects.
Burnsed said it was important that commissioners get busy on SPLOST and not let time get away from them.
Since real estate values have been decreasing and the county will likely face decreased revenues next year, “SPLOST becomes more critical than it has been,” Burnsed added. 
He said he believes this cycle will pass since the last two have been approved by a wide margin.
“But you can’t take it for granted,” he said.

2010 Census
Bryan County may not get official numbers from the 2010 Census until late March, but commissioners will likely have to form a committee when the data comes in to discuss re-organizing the county’s voting districts, Jones told commissioners.
Georgia was the fifth state in terms of population growth, expanding by 18.3 percent, from around 8.19 million people in 2000 to 9.89 million people in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The agency estimated that in 2009 around 32,560 people lived in Bryan County.
The statewide population increase means Georgia will pick up an extra seat in Congress, though the chance that the seat will be in Coastal Georgia is “remote,” Jones said.
But the influx still will require re-districting Bryan County since all five commissioners have to represent an equal number of residents, he said.
Charles Brown, the county attorney, told commissioners the re-districting has to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.    

Wastewater treatment plant
County commissioners unanimously passed a South Bryan Watershed Protection Plan for the wastewater treatment plant in South Bryan, near the new WaterWays Township subdivision that is just going under construction.
Kirk Croasmun, the county engineer, said the Georgia Environmental Protection Division required the county to adopt the plan, which establishes water quality monitoring sites, before the plant can be used.
The sites collect baseline data to make sure the plant isn’t degrading the creeks and marshes near Red Bird Creek, he said.
“This is a necessary thing we need to do,” he said.
There is some cost associated with establishing the five monitoring sites, but that is part of the overall project, Jones told commissioners.

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