The frustration level is extremely high at the county government level. First, a new ordinance was passed on a 3-1 vote to force citizens to register to speak at government meetings. The new ordinance is so broad in its restriction of free speech that any comments that might embarrass the chairman or the other commissioners are now cause for removing a citizen from a public meeting (I am not making this up).
Even more bizarre is the fact that I had to vote in favor of the ordinance even though I opposed it due to antiquated ordinances that dictate that you must vote in the majority to ever bring an ordinance back for amendment in the future, disallowing new commissioners in the future to also bring it back for a vote.
The second chord of discontent arises from the 3-2 vote to raise your county taxes. Keep in mind that this tax increase still will not keep the majority of the board from deficit budgeting.
Commissioner Allen McCarty and I did offer some alternatives to rescue the FY 2012 budget, but the presentation was not allowed to be given with Chairman Frady, Commissioner Hearn and Commissioner Horgan voting not to allow me to speak on the subject.
Consider the following regarding the majoritys vote to increase your taxes.
Fayette Countys unemployment is the highest percentage in the last 20 years and in the latest Consumer Distress Index, the state of Georgia is the fifth worst in the United States (AJC, Aug. 18, 2011).
The U.S. Commerce Department data has spurred forecasters to cut projections for U.S. growth for the second half of the year and beyond, (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 23, 2011) while our county government is engaged in deficit budgeting and spending.
This past Julys 1 percent decrease in home buying puts this year on pace to be the worst numbers in half a century. Georgia is the fourth worst in the U.S. for the rate of homes facing foreclosure (AJC, Aug. 24, 2011). In addition, 87.8 percent of Fayette County homeowners lost significant value in their homes.
Our countys commercial and industrial base what remains of it is getting hit with a considerable tax increase at the very same time they are trying to hold back on laying off employees or just keeping their doors open.
Three members of our board killed my attempt at forming a committee to utilize HB 240 in an effort to better prioritize our government spending and stave off tax increases and deficit spending. The three, instead, chose to continue spending on projects the vast majority of citizens do not want.
The fact that we are still constructing the expensive West Fayetteville Bypass, an unwarranted road, while people within our county who were once secure and are now going to charities to get financial assistance to pay their bills, and the county is going to raise their taxes is incomprehensible to me.
The county does not even bid out simple things like grass cutting contracts, so why shouldnt local taxpayers be angry?
To all the local business owners who see us wasting precious tax dollars on projects like the West Fayetteville Bypass, having no impact on our current traffic situation while your taxes get hiked, please know that two of us tried to put things into perspective, but were voted down, twice.
Commissioner McCarty and I put a legitimate alternative plan on the table. A standing-room-only crowd came in support of the proposal and the other three commissioners would not allow a presentation or a vote. Instead of de-funding certain developer welfare road projects to salvage other areas of the budget, you are getting a tax increase.
The moves to restrict free speech and totally disregard the financial well-being of the local government and our constituents are unacceptable.
Commissioner, Post 4
Peachtree City, Ga.