It’s time for all of us to come together and demand that county government do better. It’s time to stop raising taxes simply to watch those dollars spent on wasteful pet projects that benefit very few; it’s time to stop pushing job-killing policies that lower our standards of living; and it’s time to demand an end to the acceptance of inefficiency and mismanagement in government operations.
Despite being in the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, Spalding County’s budget has commercial property tax rates skyrocketing by double digits, and your average homeowner’s increasing at more than the rate of inflation. Instead of being fiscally responsible and focusing on needs instead of wants, our county manager and board’s reckless tax-and-spend attitude is going to further damage our local economy, weaken job creation and drive residents out of their homes. It’s time to hold the line on property tax increases and instead, to focus on cutting waste and delivering government services more efficiently and effectively.
Spalding County should implement what many other counties have done. They reduced spending and reduced their tax levy while understanding the priorities of their residents and putting more emphasis on roads and bridges.
Commissioners gave county manager a generous pay increase
At a called meeting County Commissioners Taylor, Ray, Gardner and Freeman voted to give the county manager a substantial raise in pay with an increase in car expense, knowing now is not the time to squander dollars on one person while others go without.
Here is how the meeting went ...
I. OPENING (CALL TO ORDER)
II. ORDER OF BUSINESS
1. Chairman Flowers-Taylor requests Executive Session for discussion or deliberation on the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a county officer or employee as provided in O.C.G.A. §50-14-3(6).
Motion/Second by Ray/Freeman to commence Executive Session at 1:04 p.m. Motion carried unanimously by all. Motion/Second by Freeman/Ray to adjourn Closed Session at 2 p.m. Motion carried unanimously by all.
2. Consider renewal of County Manager’s employment agreement for term commencing January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013.
Motion/Second by Ray/Gardner to renew County Manager’s employment agreement for term commencing January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013. Motion carried unanimously by all.
Motion/Second by Ray/Freeman to approve the following amendments to the County Manager’s employment agreement effective October 1, 2012:
1. 2% Cost of Living Increase
2. 3% Pension Increase (from 15% to 18%)
3. $100 dollar increase in car allowance per month (to $600 per month).
Motion carried unanimously by all.
Spalding County commissioners and staff should use various economic development tools to set the stage for economic growth and prosperity. The decisions Spalding County makes regarding economic development are crucial to financial stability.
County commissioners should strive to promote a thriving economy and promote economic growth. As guardian of the taxpayer dollars, they should expect a solid return on quality projects that meet the needs and goals of the county.
It is important to note economic growth and economic development are not synonymous. Economic growth does not always result from economic development or policy intervention.
Investing tax dollars wisely can benefit and enhance the county with jobs, new businesses, buildings, infrastructure, transportation and other amenities. Unfortunately, risky investments can be expensive failures and in some cases leave taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars.
It seems like every year, our local roads get worse while the county spends millions of tax dollars on studies for bike paths, airports and light rail lines that lack the flexibility to be of any real use to the majority of county residents. This lack of prioritization for transportation needs of our county residents does nothing to attract new businesses or create long-term job growth.
The solution to Spalding County’s crumbling roads and bridges isn’t to invest in trains and airports; it’s to invest in road repairs and new infrastructure. You as a tax-paying citizen of Spalding County should stand steadfast against any proposal that shifts transportation dollars away from our roads and onto frivolous pet projects that don’t help us get where we need to go.
Parks and recreation
Maintaining quality parks and recreational facilities is an important role of county government, but with tightening budgets, we need to have leaders on the board that understand that the days of writing blank checks are over. You should demand their focus be spent directly on programs that have the greatest positive impact on the greatest number of county residents. It’s time to bring a little bit of old-fashioned common sense back to government spending.
It’s time to hold the line on property tax increases and instead focus on cutting waste and delivering government services more efficiently and effectively. There should be no rubber stamp for ever-increasing taxes and frivolous spending.
One homeowner said: “I have owned a home in Spalding County since 2001, my property taxes were $1,600. In 2011 my property taxes were $4,200.” That is a 162.5 percent increase, or over a 10 percent annual increase. Did you too notice the value of your home went down and your property taxes went up?
Problems with this county begin with County Manager William Wilson, Commissioners Taylor, Ray, Gardner and Freeman, and can end with you the taxpayer.
Bob Gilreath represents District 3 on the Spalding County Board of Commissioners.