Our county staff revealed some exceptional news last Thursday. Standard and Poor’s has upgraded its rating on Fayette County’s general obligation bonds to the highest possible AAA rating.
Fayette County is now part of a very small group of elite counties in Georgia who are demonstrating outstanding fiscal accountability and proficiency to merit the significant upgrade in stature.
Clearly, entering this group of counties, one that can be counted on a single hand, is all the more amazing considering the deficit spending of past years and a stagnant revenue stream.
The current Board of Commissioners was determined to right the ship quickly and the county administrator and finance director executed a new strategy to perfection. I honestly had to admit at our last meeting that the thought of reaching the highest possible bond rating in less than a year and a half seemed unattainable, a testament to the hard work of the county staff.
In addition to the good news of the ratings achievement, the City Council of Fayetteville is in the process of approving the site plans for the new four-year college in the center of the county.
This project is a significant game-changer. The lion’s share of the credit for this good fortune belongs to Councilman Jim Williams.
The opportunities available to our county through the arrival of the Georgia Military College are exciting.
We are currently in the midst of our public hearings for the fiscal year 2015 county budget which begins July 1. The proposed budget is a partnership between the Board of Commissioners and our colleagues serving as constitutional officers. Truthfully, no one got everything they wanted and all parties continue looking at ways to build efficiency within their systems.
As we did in the last budget, there is an incentive pay bonus for employees if we hit our budget targets. Our county employees did a spectacular job in FY 2014 looking out for your tax dollars and the collaborative relationship between the county employees and the taxpayers is getting stronger.
Something you may not have considered, but I strongly urge you reflect upon is where you are making your purchases for your family. Our sales tax revenues have been flat and this will eventually have a significant impact on your family in terms of our local governments’ abilities to provide essential services.
It is important to remember that purchases your family makes in other counties provide tax revenue for people living in those areas. Unfortunately, those sale tax dollars are not going to work for you and your family through your own local governments in Fayette County.
Essentially, you are paying for someone else’s road repair, bridge replacement, police protection, etc. and not your own when you make out-of-county purchases.
Buying your gasoline, clothing, groceries and other items in Fayette County puts those extra pennies added to the dollar working for your family.
Another way to produce more consumer spending and additional tax revenue is through economic development. We have had quite a bit of success in the last two years and that will continue.
We have a diverse group of passionate individuals on the Fayette County Development Authority who have the ability to initiate innovative ways to bring solid development opportunities to the county, affording us more revenue to take care of our vital infrastructure. Their work has just begun.
Your outlook in Fayette County is bright and we finding ways to make it even brighter. Thank you for being a vital part of what makes Fayette County an exceptional place to live and conduct business.
Your comments and questions are always welcome.
Peachtree City, Ga.
[Brown is chairman of the Fayette County Commission.]