THOMASVILLE — The cost of doing business is appreciable for Thomas County government.

A portion of the expense will soon be passed along to those building new residences — be they single-family dwellings, apartments or condominiums/townhouses.

Bill Ross, the Atlanta impact fee consultant retained by Thomas County commissioners, wants a draft impact fee ordinance to go before commissioners before the end of June.

An impact fee of $1,838.87 per dwelling is being eyed by commissioners.

The fee would be charged for each single-family residence, for each apartment in a complex or for each condominium/townhouse in a development.

County commissioners and impact fee advisory panel members met for close to three hours Thursday with heads of county departments that provide services to Thomas County residents.

Additional fire and emergency medical personnel and equipment are possibilities, said Chris Jones, county fire chief. Paid staff might be required at Thomas County’s 13 fire stations, rather than the volunteer firefighters who provide services at some stations.

Capt. Derrick Ogletree, co-director of the Thomas County Emergency Medical Service, said his agency must respond to not only locals but to the many travelers passing through Thomas County on three major U.S. highways and on a number of state routes.

“Our population and call volume has increased significantly since 1999,” Ogletree told commissioners and advisory board members. The increase has been 7 percent annually since 2002.

Some 25,642 patient contacts are estimated for 2027.

Forrest Sumner, advisory panel member, said that in 20 years, Thomas County will be home to many retirees who will arrive here with existing medical problems. Sumner asked if the situation has been considered.

Suturing, prescription-writing and blood-testing might become procedures done in the field in the future, Ogletree said.

“We don’t know. We’re excited,” he added.

Nancy Tillinghast, Thomas County Public Library System director, said that based on a population of less than 50,000, the library has two professional librarians. The facility should be able to hire an additional librarian if the population increases.

Thomas County’s 2000 population was 43,000. The county is experiencing unprecedented growth, and a population of 60,000 is projected.

Pointing out the killing spree at Virginia Tech a week ago, Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell told officials a community ballgame cannot be conducted without a request for security.

For the impact fee study, the Jail-Justice Center, which opened in 1993, was evaluated.

“We have the capacity to go up to 280 (jail inmates),” Powell said. The jail population today is about 200, and a pod to house 240 more can be added.

The drug culture has a big impact on jail space, Powell said, adding, “We should be safe for the next 15 years.”

“The thing I think will be the issue with us is personnel space,” the sheriff said, in reference to the sheriff’s office. “This is the kind of thing we need to look at today.”

In reference to Jail-Justice Center expansion, Powell described the facility as land-locked.

Wiley Grady, head of Thomasville YMCA Inc., questioned what kind of growth the community will experience. The YMCA contracts with local government to coordinate recreation programs.

“Where’s the growth coming from?” he asked. “Are the people moving in here families with children?”

The local option sales tax approved by voters in the 1990s now generates $1.6 million annually for recreation, but the amount does not allow for capital improvements, Grady explained.

The amount of money will increase as people come to the community and spend money, he pointed out, but facilities are a concern.

Grady told officials local government should acquire 50 to 60 acres outside the city for an adult recreation facility. The move would allow for expansion of youth programs, including extremely popular soccer, at the Remington complex, he added.

Biking and walking trails should be developed, Grady said.

He told officials that in the late 1970s, 200 youngsters played softball. Today, the number is 900.

Ann Powell, E-911 director, told officials growth will require more space at the facility she heads.

E-911 has been housed in a 3,000-square-foot South Crawford Street building for a couple of years — after vacating 800 square feet at the Jail-Justice Center.

Powell questioned how the current facility could accommodate the 900-plus square feet that would be needed with projected growth.

She told officials they might want to

use the Crawford Street facility as a secondary center and build a new one.

Also, Powell said, growth means more equipment, and more personnel is required to operate the equipment.

Advisory panel member Parks Weaver said people have no idea how much it costs to run county government.

“They need to be informed,” he said.

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