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County Commission Chairman Jack Smith takes aim at Brown

I am Jack Smith, your Fayette County Commission chairman and a certified public accountant. I am running for re-election to Post 4 (an at-large seat) in the July 20 Republican primary election, and I ask for your vote and support.

Your vote for me can be cast now in early voting or on July 20th — either way it is a vote for sanity in managing your tax resources.

There are four groups of people who may read this letter:

1. Those who know me and know I have selflessly performed a lifetime of honest, ethical, trustworthy and dedicated service to the community;

2. Those who know my opponent and know his method of building himself up is by tearing others down with his inappropriate twisting of facts to achieve his goal of controlling your mind and your vote — and promoting the one thing most important to him: himself;

3. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories and believe anything, without verification or questioning, as long as it fits their purpose, their purpose being oft times hidden from the public’s view;

4. Those knowing neither of us and reading this newspaper hoping for some unbiased insight into each candidate so an informed decision can be made when voting.

This letter is intended for Group 4. I hope it causes you to think and possibly research each of the candidates before you decide which way to cast your vote.

First, let me say that each of us Post 4 candidates has a record that can be easily researched (mine on the County Commission website under annual reports and his by searching the City of Peachtree City website, but more importantly searching his incessant letters to the editor of this newspaper over the past 6-8 years (earlier letters give you a better understanding of his actual positions on issues more so than his currently penned words which are designed solely to cast aspersions where none exist).

I am well-qualified to serve and here are some of those qualifications: I am a native Georgian; have lived in Fayette County since 1982; earned a degree in accounting from the University of Georgia in 1973 and earned my CPA certificate shortly thereafter.

I have many years of governmental experience as an independent auditor of numerous cities, counties, government grantees and other government entities.

I obtain annual continuing education, and my public accounting practice is subject to peer review on a regular and ongoing basis. Every peer review completed to date has resulted in an acknowledgement of adherence to rigorous professional standards set by state and national regulatory bodies for CPAs.

I still work managing the successful public accounting firm I cofounded in 1990. In 2009, I completed additional training and became an Advanced Certified County Commissioner, the highest level of certification available to county commissioners in Georgia.

I am the first county commissioner from Fayette County to ever achieve this pinnacle and one of only about 200 in the entire state to ever earn this advanced designation issued jointly by the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and the University of Georgia.

In 2009, I was secretly nominated and then selected as recipient of the Georgia Society of CPA’s Public Service Award for my many years of service to better my community.

Here are a few of the accomplishments that your Board of Commissioners (which I am honored to chair) has accomplished in the last three and one-half years: built a cooperative spirit among constitutional officers; converted to a strong manager style of government where the commission truly is the policy-setting body and the county manager actually runs day-to-day operations; corrected some inequities with municipalities and developed a cooperative spirit among governments in the county; reduced expensive employment turnover (near 20 percent overall and near 30 percent in public safety positions to less than 5 percent) which eliminated massive training costs and promotes stability and continuity of service to citizens; continued strict adherence to land use policies making Fayette a great place to live and work; and empowered divisional directors and managers to deliver services as rapidly and efficiently as possible.

In the past three years, Fayette has also achieved some notable recognitions under my watch: the metro Atlanta media recognized our 911 dispatch center as the only one in metro Atlanta meeting national standards for dispatch performance; our Fire and Emergency Services group was recognized for care of heart attack victims, resulting in our being the only EMS in metro Atlanta having authority to directly admit a cardiac patient to Piedmont Hospital-Atlanta’s Cardiac Cath Lab without the patient being seen by an emergency room physician; and our Storm Water Management expertise was recognized by the Federal Flood Insurance Program, resulting in improved ratings and as much as 15 percent savings on flood insurance costs for those who qualify.

There are a myriad of other accomplishments that, quite frankly, are too numerous to list here, but can be found in the county’s annual reports online at fayettecountyga.gov.

Notwithstanding these, the greatest accomplishment of the last three years is clearly management of ever dwindling resources.

Fayette is one of a few counties who foresaw the impending economic crunch and took proactive steps in the face of this approaching economic disaster. As a result, service levels remained stable while budgeted expenditures decreased over $6 million, with no tax increases.

(As I write this, the proposed budget for next year had its first public hearing and shows another $1 million reduction in expenditures – with no decline in service levels and no tax increases planned). This is a testament to the elected officials and the employees who dedicate themselves to ensuring Fayette citizens obtain the exemplary quality of service that draws people to our area.

I think you also need to be aware of what the county is facing in these troubling economic times. With good leadership, both elected and employed, Fayette has managed declining sales tax, declining property tax, and declining fees from services quite remarkably without any reduction in service levels. This was accomplished with sound budgetary controls, reductions in expenditures, management of normal attrition of retiring or voluntarily departing personnel and, more importantly, without mass terminations or furloughing of personnel, which would have added to the increasing unemployment burden in our community.

But the $6 million reduction in budget does not get us out of the woods; it only shows we have managed the problem thus far.

Economic indicators tell us that the next major property devaluation will be in the commercial sector. This was easy to foresee with increasing vacancies in retail space and virtually no new markets for the vacant industrial and office space also available in our community.

To deal with this impending reduction, your Board of Commissioners slowed county spending three years ago and has successfully accumulated slightly over $5 million in reserves during the last three fiscal years to cushion the impact of this expected decline in commercial tax revenue (and, yes, that is in addition to the $6 million reduction in budget over the same period). Our concern is whether this is enough to carry us through one, two or more years of expected declines.

These budget challenges are certainly the “elephant in the room” that we have been preparing for over the last few years. Fayette citizens should find solace in knowing the business of running Fayette County government is in the hands of capable businessmen who have demonstrated over the last three years their ability to manage in a declining environment, make provisions for the unexpected and plan for the future.

Now is not the time to hand the reins of Fayette County government to those groups who have little experience in managing an active business with some 700-plus employees and whose sole experience of the past few years is to cast aspersions on those who are good managers from the comfort of their computer room without appearing at a County Commission meeting, a workshop meeting or any committee meeting to participate in the business of governing during any time in the last three and one-half years.

Finally, I will comment on the frenzy of Group 2 and their blindly following Brown through the twisted facts and innuendos that fit his and their agenda.

1. Ethics: there is but one candidate that has been found guilty of an ethics violation – Brown.

2. Conflict of interest from being a bank director in his self-termed “developers’ bank”: the bank board consists of 11 members, two of which are in the building and construction business – hardly indicative of being a developers’ bank. Only 3 percent of the bank’s total loans outstanding are related to real estate in Fayette County and less than four-tenths of one percent of outstanding loans are for commercial acquisition and development loans in Fayette County and NONE of the bank’s loan portfolio is for residential acquisition and development loans in Fayette County.

In fact, slightly less than one-third of the bank’s total outstanding loans are related to real estate in any manner and only 9 percent of the loans related to real estate in any manner are loans in Fayette County. In short, like 99.9 percent of his other claims, Brown’s accusations are not supported by facts.

3. West Fayetteville Bypass: there is but one candidate that publically voted for it – Brown (October 2003); there is but one candidate that believes the duly recorded vote of Fayette citizens should be overridden by the Board of Commissioners – Brown (and in how many other issues will he again try to negate a voter mandate to do what the political winds tell him will obtain more political support?); there is but one candidate who believes a vocal minority encouraged to be more vocal becomes a majority – Brown.

4. TDK Boulevard: there is but one candidate that claims he was against it from the start but in letters to the editor of this newspaper claimed credit for its impending construction – Brown; there is but one candidate that actually signed the contract to construct TDK – Brown.

5. District voting: there is but one candidate that espouses the benefits of this voting system (which I am adamantly opposed to and which would destroy Fayette County’s quality of life) and is on record supporting it in letters to the editor and/or columns in this newspaper – Brown.

6. Mass transit: there is but one candidate who actively lobbied for implementation and funding of a rail spur (Peachtree City to Downtown Atlanta) and is on record of that in letters to the editor of this newspaper; AND who, as a “founding” member of the Metro Atlanta Mayor’s Association adopted a resolution urging “accelerated development and implementation of .... Alternate ... transportation ... including expansion of transit and commuter rail services” – Brown.

(I am on record of supporting commuter rail placed down each interstate highway in metro Atlanta and, failing that, agreeing to place a rail spur into the long range transit plan — the very rail spur that Brown worked so hard to fund – so Fayette citizens had future transportation options in face of $6-$8 gasoline, a target our president aspires to achieve to curb consumption in America)

7. Membership in the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC): there is but one candidate that is seemingly unaware that relinquishing our membership in the ARC results in being subject to their transportation plan air quality limitations without a voice or vote on the ARC Board regarding those decisions and, most likely, would result in a severe reduction in the federal funds we receive for senior services in Fayette County – Brown.

(Why would Fayette give up membership when the two largest portions of federal funds being disbursed through ARC are aging and transportation – whose committees are now chaired by Fayette County elected officials?)

I am confident when you weigh the true facts and not the distorted ones you will see an overwhelming difference in my getting things done and my opponent tearing things down. I again ask for your vote for Jack Smith and your support in the July 20 Republican Primary or in early voting going on now.

Jack Smith, Commissioner

Fayette County Georgia Post 4

Peachtree City, Ga.

Location: 

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