Commissioner-elect Brown: Stop West Bypass, hold on to county cash
The letters to the editor in the local newspapers regarding government at all levels can best be described by the catch phrase from the Verizon cell phone commercials: “Can you hear me now?”
The establishment frontrunners at all levels are finding things out the hard way. Republican John Oxendine was leading all of the polls in the months heading into our gubernatorial primary election and he finished in the middle of the pack. Karen Handel leapt to the head of the line because she was viewed as an outsider, least affected by the influences of the non-caring establishment.
There is always a lot of wheeling and dealing going on in government at all levels. I have personally fought a few of the local back room deals locally.
Allen McCarty and I ran our campaigns on a clearly defined set of issues. We told you, the voters, how the current county commissioners voted on the issues and we told you how we would vote the opposite way. There was no gray area, no political smoke screen, or fancy language leading to double entendre.
After being given two clear-cut options, the voters made their decision. Between the 2009 SPLOST vote and the recent election, there is an obvious voter mandate. Think back to the Verizon commercials.
After writing a column in the newspaper for quite a while, I had received a great deal of public feedback on local issues. I spoke to people at the grocery stores and the schools and everywhere in between. That direct line to the public showed me there was a significant level of dissatisfaction on certain key issues, namely the West Fayetteville Bypass, the mass transit issue and taxation.
After the election, I was taken aback by rumors that the remaining three commissioners were not going to respect the wishes of the voters, again, and work to retain their stances in favor of the West Fayetteville Bypass and keeping Fayette in the regional mass transit plan.
Will they actually go against the will of the voters? I have no idea. We will have to wait and see what they do. However, I will publicly state before you all that I am willing to work well before January with anyone on the Board of Commissioners who desires to move forward on these specific issues where the people have spoken. Those commissioners working to that end will have my gratitude, Commissioner-elect McCarty’s gratitude and the support of the public.
Even though I do not take office until January, I strongly urge the current commissioners and heads of the various county departments to withhold any expenditure which is not deemed absolutely necessary. The focus should be on holding as much cash on hand as possible with the significant chance of the economy taking a double dip.
I follow two sets of economists, both liberal and conservative. This past week was the first time both groups have expressed real fears of our economy stalling and falling yet again.
We are at a point beyond fiscal conservatism, possibly heading toward fiscal austerity. The obvious choice is not increasing spending, but our latest choice must be saying “no” to some items currently in the new budget.
Taking a rigorous look at the budget now and determining whether we can survive without a particular item, and compiling a list of those items, may well help the county prevent extreme measures concerning employee losses, service collapse and the need for increased revenue to sustain essential county services in a year or two.
The Georgia Legislature found out their coveted rainy day fund disappeared almost instantly once the revenue streams dried up. There is a distinct possibility we will see if we can survive a second dip with our reserve funds depleted too. While there is a definite possibility the state may receive another federal bailout, our local governments will not be as fortunate.
We must think in terms of being in a position where the state government begins to run dry and they hand down some of their fiscal burdens to the local level. Items once covered by the state budget may fall on our shoulders.
The time to be getting serious is right now. Wasting vital funds on useless projects like the West Fayetteville Bypass is certainly not the answer.
Fayette Commissioner-elect, Post 4
Peachtree City, Ga.