Among accomplishments of this county commission are empowering managers and directors to rapidly and efficiently deliver services and managing financial resources in these rough economic times. With passage of the new budget just last week, we have reduced the total county budget over seven million dollars and spent six million dollars less than the revenues received during those same three-plus years.
Savings were accomplished in four major areas: 1. Elimination of an insurance consultant and requiring proposals resulted in savings of near four hundred thousand dollars per year.
2. Changing the retirement plan and reducing the county contribution from 4 percent to 3.8 percent while requiring employees to contribute 2.5 percent of salary and reducing the county maximum contribution to its “deferred compensation” plan from 4 percent to 2.5 percent resulting in combined savings of near four hundred thousand dollars per year.
3. Attrition of 40 non-critical positions since the hiring freeze implementation three years ago accounts for savings of over a million dollars per year.
4. Addition of a staff attorney to perform routine legal matters saves over two hundred thousand dollars per year. In addition, we extended the replacement life of some capital assets and generally reduced spending in most areas of general government.
The accumulation of general reserves will allow us to meet additional economic challenges anticipated with commercial property foreclosures, leading to reduced taxable values and less tax revenues to support government services. We have prepared well for this challenge and are committed to making government function effectively and efficiently rather than cutting services or raising taxes as is being done in countless other jurisdictions across America.
We also face challenges as we age and new seniors move to our area to be near children and grandchildren. Growth in seniors is evidenced by increased membership in our Senior Center from 40 to 3,000 members in just a little over two short years. Continued growth in the senior population will result in housing, transportation and medical challenges as well.
In face of increased needs and declining resources, your County Commission repurposed sixty thousand dollars from recreational to senior services in the current year budget.
In addition, we are faced with continued assaults to the foundations of Fayette’s success, such as my opponent’s incessant desire to install district voting so he can remake Fayette into the image of Clayton and Fulton counties.
Added obstacles are being generated by unfunded mandates passed down from state and federal governments and changes dictated by the same governments limiting our local ability to make decisions in the best interest of our citizens.
These challenges require Fayette to have representation at the commissioner level that can and will develop relationships locally, regionally and statewide to work in concert with those officials to protect our way of life.
My opponent has demonstrated his lack of ability or understanding that relationships are necessary to achieve goals and objectives for the community. His method of governing has already been demonstrated as slash and burn for anyone or anything that does not cow to his point of view — certainly not the way to achieve consensus or sway anyone’s point of view.
There are still goals that need to be addressed with regard to Fayette’s future to ensure its long term economic viability: completion of the transition to electronic access government where all public information is available on line; a permanent location for an institution of higher learning to keep both the brightest minds and their education costs in our community, as well as developing a clean, high-paying addition to the Fayette economy; shifting the burden of paying for government from homeowners to some other method of taxation (as I previously wrote, both of these would have occurred courtesy of the failed SPLOST my opponent rails so heavily against – ask yourself why he is adamantly opposed to renters and transients picking up 20-30 percent of the tax burden now being paid by property owners).
In addition, more severe economic conditions will force governments to look toward consolidation of services such as fire, EMS and utilities as your county government did regarding the operation of the Brooks water system.
Consolidation can only occur when there is mutual respect and trust among the negotiating parties and where benefits are available to both parties and not, when in the mindset of my opponent, there must be a winner and a loser. Remember his “successful” negotiation with Greg Dunn and PTC’s loss of over six million dollars in sales tax revenue.
Challenges such as these can be met if we continue to address them in a businesslike manner with our decisions being made based on factual analysis and not based on emotion.
With a budget of over seventy million dollars, over 700 employees and a poor economy, this is not the time for emotional decisions or the time to place our resources in the hands of the lesser trained and experienced. Fayette County has proven leadership; please vote to keep it in place – Vote for Jack Smith and common sense government on July 20.
Candidate, Post 4
Peachtree City, Ga.