ATLANTA — Georgia Lottery ticket sales increased by $178.2 million during fiscal 2019, driven by a huge jump in Mega Millions ticket sales.
Mega Millions sales rose by $73.5 million, or 58.6%, to $199.1 million during the fiscal year, which ended June 30, according to an annual independent audit the Georgia Lottery Corp. released last Friday.
The report attributed the popularity of the Mega Millions game to the size of the jackpots.
“The Mega Millions jackpot exceeded $400 million on three occasions during the year, reaching a high value of $1.537 billion in October 2018, $522 million in June 2019 and $437 million in January 2019,” the audit stated.
Mega Millions is a multi-state lottery game operated with 10 other states: California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Washington.
Overall, the lottery accounted for $4.776 billion in ticket sales during fiscal 2019, up from $4.598 billion the previous fiscal year, representing an increase of $178.2 million, or 3.9%.
Of that amount, a record $1.207 billion was returned to education, including the HOPE Scholarships program, up $63.9 million compared to fiscal 2018.
Scratcher games accounted for the most lottery ticket sales. Scratcher game sales increased by $77.6 million to $3.219 billion, according to the report.
The audit attributed the growth of scratcher game sales primarily to the popularity of the $10 and $20 games.
Originally, speed cameras were expected to be installed by the end of the year near Rome High School but officials said a few contract issues have slowed the process down.
Once those issues between the city and Red Speed USA — an Illinois-based provider of automated photo enforcement devices — have been ironed out then the contract can go back to the city commission for approval.
The Rome City School Board unanimously voted in November for the Red Speed camera application at the school board meeting, despite the question of whether or not the cameras would target students who drive to Rome High.
A nine-hour test done in front of Rome High on Veteran’s Memorial Highway showed at least 274 motorists traveling at least 11 mph over the 45-mph speed limit. If drivers are caught going 11 mph over the speed limit, a ticket will be sent to the address of the car in operation.
“We don’t have enough officers to enforce it in those school zones all the time,” said Rome Assistant Police Chief Debbie Burnett. “Our goal is compliance.”
At the November school board caucus, Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars acknowledged the chance of students being ticketed at Rome High. However, he felt that safety is the main concern.
“My thought is that if this slows people down enough to save the life of one of our students, then I want to give (RedSpeed) that opportunity,” Byars said to the board at the November caucus.
Most of the revenue made from the tickets, which are set at $75, will go to the city of Rome to be used for public safety purposes. The rest will go directly to Red Speed USA, the company that distributes the cameras.
“That’s the law,” Burnett said, about the $75 price tag on the tickets. “There’s no grace in that.”
While reports said the cameras would likely be installed before the end of the year, none of the Red Speed cameras have been installed.
As of right now, the Georgia Department of Transportation has not received an application for a permit for the speed cameras, spokesman Joe Schulman said.
Burnett said that contracts between Red Speed USA and the city need some minor adjustments and will need to be presented to the city commission again.
“It could be two weeks, it could be six weeks,” Burnett said.
Rome High School is the only school in the Rome city school district that will have the speed cameras in a school zone, said Byars. In order for other school zones to have them, another study would have to be conducted.
Since the Unified Land Development Code was last updated 20 years ago, the business world has drastically changed.
VHS stores no longer exist, but small online businesses and business platforms — such as home-based artisans who use Etsy to sell their goods — are thriving.
However, while there are local zoning codes and regulations for VHS stores, there aren’t any regulations or codes for cottage industry businesses, hobby farms or tiny homes.
Because of this, both the Floyd County and Rome City commissions have been working with the Rome-Floyd Planning Commission to update the ULDC.
“We’re currently in the process of drafting a subcommittee of the planning commission to look at the ULDC and make any necessary updates,” Planning Director Artagus Newell said.
“We’re also taking input from staff and local citizens on what needs to be updated and how it should be done,” he said.
Assistant City Manager Patrick Eidson and Newell are on the new subcommittee with planning commission members Anthony McClain, Logan Boss, Ivy Lowery and Frank Brown. City Engineer Aaron Carroll and other staffers are available to answer technical questions.
Communities “have to get creative” to allow property owners the flexibility to try new things while still protecting the surrounding landowners, City Manager Sammy Rich said. It’s past time to review the ULDC, Rich said and Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord agreed.
“We’re looking at situations with business operations in residential zoning,” Newell said, but there aren’t updated regulations in place to address any issues.
For instance, a business might be operating in a property that’s zoned residential but, because of the small impact to the area, it doesn’t need to be rezoned to commercial.
“There might be assembly and shipping taking place at the property, but it doesn’t need to be rezoned,” Newell said. “We’re trying to figure out how to balance operations and maintain protections for neighbors.”
Once the subcommittee finishes the ULDC updates, they will send it to the planning commission for approval and then send it to the Floyd County Commission for a final vote. The Rome City Commission also may opt to adopt applicable provisions.