Walker County Tax Commissioner Offices to Close for State Mandated System Upgrade

Rock Spring, GA – The Walker County Tax Commissioner offices in Rock Spring and Rossville will close to the public at Noon on Thursday, May 23rd and not reopen until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 28th.  The closure is necessary to install Georgia DRIVES, a new state-mandated vehicle registration and titling system.

Every resident with a birthday in late May and early June should process their vehicle transactions on or before May 20th to avoid any issues, as some vehicle services will be reduced after that date in preparation for the system upgrade.

“Every employee in our office has been working diligently to learn this new system,” said Carolyn Walker, Tax Commissioner.  “We won’t be as fast as we have been with the old system for a while, until we have everything committed to memory. We appreciate your support and patience during this transition.”

This system upgrade will impact all local tag offices in Georgia, not just Walker County.  Statewide, all county tag offices will be unable to process vehicle transactions during the upgrade.

Georgia DRIVES will modernize the data input system for tags and titles, provide agencies with interconnectivity and improve the customer experience by expanding the ability for mobile, Internet and kiosk transactions.

Additional information about Georgia DRIVES can be found online at georgiadrives.com.

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How Walker Works – Elections Office Prepares for the Transition to a Board of Commissioners

LaFayette – The first Board of Commissioners election doesn’t take place until 2020, but the staff at the Walker County Elections Office is already hard at work making sure every voter is placed in the correct district.

Danielle Montgomery, Director of Elections, says “We are working with the GIS for Walker County and trying to get each street in each district so we have every street in every district so we can put that into our system and that way if someone looks up on their My Voter Page they can see what district they are in.  It is a long and tedious process.”

It could take several months for Montgomery and her team to complete this task.  Meanwhile, voters with questions about which district they are in can contact the Elections office for verification.  “We have some maps and we’d be glad to answer any questions or emails about what district they are in, because we can see it, but we haven’t gotten it into the system where they can see it.”

As for those wanting to run for office, Montgomery says there are some important steps to consider before moving forward.  “You need to fill out a Declaration of Intent, it’s also known as a DOI, before you can accept money.  So, no business cards no signs or anything until you’ve completed this Declaration of Intent.”

Forms can be obtained from the Elections Office on the bottom floor of the courthouse in LaFayette.  For additional information, call (706) 638-4349 or email the Elections Office at elections@walkerga.us.

Four district commissioners and an at-large chairperson will be on the ballot.  Party qualifying takes place in 2020 from March 2nd through the 6th with the Primary scheduled for May 19th.  Those wanting to run as an Independent should contact the Elections Office to learn more about that process.  “It’s a little bit more in depth than running under a party system,” says Montgomery. 

The General Election is set for November 3, 2020.  The inaugural group of District Commissioner’s and Board Chair takes office January 1, 2021.

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How Walker Works – Business License

Starting a business in Walker County will soon be more straightforward.  Beginning July 1st, 2019, entrepreneurs will be able to stop by the county’s Planning office and obtain a business license.

Jennifer McSpadden, Owner, Pie Slingers Pizzeria, says “It’s a sense of pride, it kicks everything off and you get excited about opening your business and getting it started.”  McSpadden adds the process of starting a business in Walker County has been confusing.  “In every other location that I’ve opened, and I’ve had four other locations besides here in Walker County… the first step to opening a business is acquiring a business license.”

The Small Business Administration, financial planners like Dave Ramsey and others all advise this step, since a business license is required to complete many start-up functions.  “So they kind of hit that roadblock when they are going to get set up for business insurance or a business loan or even to get set up as a wholesale vendor sometimes they are asked where is your business license,” says Lacey Wilson, President, Walker County Chamber of Commerce.

Along with offering benefits to business owners, consumers will now be able to see which businesses are following the rules and which are not.  Licensing will also provide more accurate economic development data to help recruit industry… data not currently available in the community, because it’s unclear just how many businesses and skilled workers exist.  Wilson adds, “So, if we have an automotive supplier and they’re coming to the area and want to know information about similar businesses, we don’t have that information. If you have a large manufacturer who is locating maybe to another county in our region and they want to know if Walker County is a good fit for their suppliers, we also don’t have that information to be able to give them.”

While licensing begins July 1st for new businesses, existing businesses have until January 1st, 2020 to obtain a license.  There’s a nominal fee of $50 to $150 for the license, depending on the number of employees.

When all the other businesses need to have one, there is accountability to our county.  We all have to have a state license or sales tax license, but to have local accountability and know that your are providing locally.  And then our local government can help us in that they understand we’re a part of their growth and sustainability is very important to us,” says McSpadden.

The cities within Walker County already require a business license.  The new county license only applies to businesses operating in the unincorporated areas.  The application process will open in late May/early June.

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Do You Know How to Two-Step with Fire Ants?

Walker County UGA Extension Agent Wade Hutcheson tells us how to two-step our way to get rid of fire ants in our yards. Information comes from the publication: Managing Imported Fire Ants in Urban Areas and Texas A&M University.

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How Walker Works – Clean & Lien

Walker County’s new “Blighted & Derelict Property” Ordinance, also known as the clean and lien initiative, aims to remove old buildings that are falling down and pose a hazard to society.

Here’s how it works: After a code enforcement official investigates and identifies a structure as a public nuisance, a formal complaint will be filed in Magistrate Court.  The property owner will then be notified and given an opportunity to answer the complaint.  If the judge moves forward with the case, the property owner will be given an opportunity to come into compliance on their own or demolish the structure on their own.  If the owner fails to comply with the court order to repair or demolish the building, the court can grant the county authority to tear it down and place a lien on the property for the expense.

The county plans to tackle 12 abandoned properties at a time. The following properties have been targeted for 2019:

  1. 25 Park Drive
  2. 44 Keller
  3. 78 Keller
  4. 350 Devine Street
  5. 624 James Street
  6. 7085 Highway 136 West
  7. Mission Ridge (Parcel 0108014)
  8. 17 Cleveland Road
  9. 217 Up Our Way
  10. 5098 Highway 337
  11. 15 Davis Circle
  12. 1101 Salem Road

Below is a list of contractors that are available for demolition of blighted property.  This list is in no way affiliated or endorsed by Walker County Government.  It is just available as a courtesy to the public.

Dennis Bay – 423-413-5797
Henry Blakemore – 423-593-9562
David Carlock – 423-595-2480
Thomas Smith – 423-593-5551
Daniel Vaughn – 423-443-9730
Tyler Yarbrough – 423-362-2033

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