Your new 2013 Fayette Board of Commissioners has made some significant improvements to the way your county government conducts business.
First of all, we have delivered a balanced budget, ending years of deficit spending. The Board of Commissioners and our constitutional officers have collaborated to shape our budgets to reflect our current economic environment.
We have also made some significant changes in government transparency since January.
We employed the use of town hall meetings to gather input from our constituents. Previously, there was no real way for the public to interact with the county government. There was no dialog.
The town hall format we use allows the people to say whatever they want and we do not restrict them with short time limits. More importantly, we actually listened and made changes to our government efforts based on comments from the audience.
When it comes to our regularly scheduled commissioners meeting, we now give you fair treatment. The government used to run a stopwatch and cut you off at three minutes if you wanted to speak during the public comment section.
With the last Board of Commissioners, I was twice voted down by the old board majority on being able to present my own agenda items. The philosophy of not permitting people to speak with differing opinions ended on Jan. 1, 2013.
Another first in Fayette County is your Board of Commissioners grants every citizen in the audience an opportunity to be part of the decision-making process. Every citizen can come forward and offer comments before we vote on any agenda item, making every item a public hearing.
We put an end to backroom, closed-door deals. We publicly advertise all openings for appointments to commissions, boards and authorities. Now everyone has an opportunity to participate.
Your new Board of Commissioners enables all residents to have direct access to each board member. I cannot tell you how many citizens have told me they used to only be able to speak to the county administrator. You can call the new board directly on our cell phones. If you come by the office in Fayetteville, we will speak to your personally.
Beginning this year, you do not have to take anyone’s word for what happens at one of our Board of Commissioners meetings. We now bring the meeting right to your home. At no cost to the taxpayer, we televise our meetings on the public government channel, Comcast 23.
Just recently, we began to deliver customized county email newsletters to our constituents. So the moment we know something, we will pass it on to you. This is especially helpful for our rural residents who do not receive the local newspapers in their driveways.
If you want to be on the county email newsletter list, go to www.fayettecountyga.gov and look at the right-hand column where it says, “Subscribe to our Email Newsletters.” Then simply insert your email address.
Even better, your new Board of Commissioners is always open to new ideas on ways to improve our efforts on open and transparent governance. Let us know what you think.
Chairman, Fayette Board of Commissioners
Peachtree City, Ga.