Monday, July 30, 2007

Seven Fayette County Commission Chairman have spoken out... It's time to wake-up!

Seven, yes SEVEN, former Fayette County Commission Chairman have now voiced their opposition to actions of the current Board of Commissioners. That is unprecedented in the history of this county, and perhaps in any county in Georgia or the United States. They have spoken out against the firing of County Attorney Bill McNally. They have spoken out regarding the current Board’s plan to move employees to a defined benefit plan. They have expressed concern about the firing of County Manager Chris Venice.

They are unanimous in their displeasure at this Board’s new policy of not giving public notice of intended actions which have serious consequences for taxpayers, the county’s future and individuals. Items are brought up during “Board Reports” which all past Boards have listed on the Public Agenda giving citizens required notice of intended actions.

Despite hearing from seven who know far more than all of the current Board combined, despite two resignations from the Water Committee by long-term members, despite letters to the editor from six former County Chairmen and despite stories in the papers about some of the County Chairmen speaking at a Commission meeting Fayette County taxpayers are sleeping.

For the past six years the County Commission has rolled back the millage rate, thus reducing taxes on the portion of your tax bill they can control. This County Commission is not going to roll back the millage rate. Your taxes are going up.

The Commission is building a pet project of one of the staff at the cost of millions of dollars which wasn’t originally slated to be built until 2012. You’re paying for something now that wasn’t in the scheduled capital budget. Something has to give when things are added.

This Commission is taking money willy-nilly from the new park in Kedron. A protective fence is gone, a much-needed and planned for Marshal will no longer be staffed to patrol the park, and a building which was to include an office for a marshal is gone.

There are going to be twenty-seven new people working for the county next year. Our local government is growing at a time when the square footage is decreasing at a fairly fast pace due to annexations into cities.

Commissioners are voting to put sewer into the county from the cities, which would break the back of our Land Use Plan and make it indefensible.

Two Commissioners voted to go with higher cost ($93,000 higher) insurance premiums for the same coverage, purportedly for personal reasons.

And yet the taxpayers of Fayette County are sleeping.

The current Board is talking about switching employees to a defined benefit system. Almost everyone on the committee to study the retirement system will benefit if they switch to a defined benefit system. The only people who will lose will be the taxpayers of this county. All over the country governments and companies are in deep doo-doo because of their defined benefit retirements.

But our taxpayers are sleeping.

Commissioners have decided not to hire a replacement for current and future vacant positions in the Marshals department, apparently intending to do away with the Marshals office. The Marshals were originally created to patrol county parks, enforce county ordinances and do other jobs the Sheriff’s office chose not to do. Once the Marshals are gone, who will make sure the streets aren’t cluttered with illegal signs? Who will make sure the noise ordinance is followed? Who will keep all of our parks safe? Who’s going to hand out a ticket to the neighbor with grass waist-high with old rusty vehicles scattered around? Who will answer your complaint about a neighbor with ten bulldogs in the backyard barking all the time?

Esthetics are important to property values. We may grouse about getting a warning ticket from a Marshal, but without enforcement of the time-proven ordinances the county will decline.

Rezonings are in the wings that could destroy the future of this county.

Unfortunately, more than likely only those in the immediate area of the proposed rezonings will be at the meetings. Too little, too late.

So many moved to this county to get away from rampant growth, bad county management, over-burdened tax systems and other problems. Yet this county so many chose due to its strong commitment to quality seems poised to jump in feet-first to become just like the counties so many left.

Past County Commissioners who stood as guardians at the gate, who safeguarded this treasure we call Fayette County, are standing up and waving huge red warning flags.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t wait until the damage has been done. Get involved now.

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