Candidate Lee Hearn makes multitudes of false statements

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What some candidates will do to get elected.

A video interview with Lee Hearn is circulating and Mr. Hearn continues to make accusations that are false. This is the only way I know how to get factual information out there.

“He said upon his review of the budget documents provided on the Fayette County website he found 4 out of 7 of Mr. Ognio’s budgets were deficit budgets and the largest deficit came in 2013 at over 5 million dollars.”

None of this is true. All 7 budgets I voted for have been balanced. As for the 2013 budget, Mr. Hearn voted for that budget in June 2012. That was his last of the four deficits he voted for. I took office in 2013 but the first budget that I voted for was the 2014 budget that was voted on in June of 2013.

“Ogino’s 2020 budget report forecast deficits 2020, 2021 and 2022.”

The 2020 budget is balanced and there is no such forecast in the 2020 budget.

“Ogino’s budget plan isn’t headed in a positive direction.”

We have added to the fund balance every year.

The statement below comes from page 9 of the Fayette County, Comprehensive Financial Report for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2019, which is on the county website.

“Prior to fiscal year 2014, to fund operations of the County, fund balance was extensively used to cover the excess of expenditures over revenues. Starting in FY 2014 and continued in FYs 2015, through FY2019, the Board of Commissioners adopted cost-saving initiatives that discontinued deficit budgeting without any impact to service delivery. The FY2020 budget, adopted June 27, 2019, did not include a rollback of the maintenance and operations General Fund millage rate. The additional funds were used to fund a county initiative for retention of Public Safety personnel by improving pay and retirement benefits. The Board again demonstrates a long-term commitment to fiscal conservatism and efficiency while maintaining an outstanding level of customer service to its citizens.”

“He’s disappointed that Ognio would deliberately mislead the taxpayers of Fayette County.”

I have never and will never mislead the taxpayers.

“Ognio was one of three commissioners to vote for a tax increase when approved the millage rate in 2019.” I voted for the tax increase. The additional funds were used to fund a county initiative for retention of public safety personnel by improving pay and retirement benefits. These increases became a recurring cost, so it did not make sense to try to find money to make this year’s budget and then have maybe larger tax increase the next year. For clarity this was not a millage rate increase.

“[Hearn’s] Fayette County taxes has gone up each year Ognio has been in office.”

I do not doubt that his taxes have gone up every year. Mine have, mainly because school tax has gone up. The county’s General Fund Maintenance & Operation millage rate is down from 5.645 mills when I took office to 4.392 mills to date.

“Ognio’s county budgets have grown each of the past four years from 87.3 million in 2017 to 97.8 million in 2020.”

He is right the budget has grown, but the numbers that Mr. Hearn is using are totals including capital improvements done that year. Capital improvements is money that has been put aside for that purpose and is pulled out of that budget line item to be spent when those improvements are needed.

“Ognio promised to protect the rural character of Fayette County yet he continues to rezone tracks aimed at more houses on smaller tracts.”

The land use plan that was in place when I took office was not manageable. We updated the land use plan to help keep the county rural. I do not support spot zoning.

There are other things in the video I disagree with, but I will not go into those at this time.

Randy C. Ognio

Chairman, Fayette County Board of Commissioners

Fayetteville, Ga.