Brown: Answers to Lentz’s questions
Mr. Paul Lentz has written a series of letters to the editor related to the Core Infrastructure SPLOST, slated for the November ballot.
Many have had a difficult time following Mr. Lentz’s urgings, and the issues enumerated within those communications are scarce. Hence, to avoid any uncertainty, let’s spell out some concerns, permitting the voters to decide on their own.
Allow me to say first that Mr. Lentz (who has dubbed himself as the “curmudgeon”) is a very nice guy and I appreciate his interest in local government at a time when many know little about what really takes place. Mr. Lentz volunteers with the Friends of the Peachtree City Library non-profit which assists and encourages the library staff.
On the subject of the stormwater projects, 181 total projects in the unincorporated county, please know that almost every project is a replacement or a repair for an existing piece of infrastructure in the ground today. Some readers have misconstrued particular comments made in the past, thinking there are a lot of “new” projects on the list.
Take for instance the dams on the Core Infrastructure list. Those dams already exist. The state regulators are not asking us if we want to restore the structural integrity or breach the dams. They are ordering us to either repair or breach each of them.
It takes a significant amount of funding, in the millions, to either repair or breach the dams. For the record, the county government does not have the funding to do either one. Again, we have been ordered to act and we will have to pull the funding from other line items somewhere else in our lean budget. In the process of our balancing the budget, we did not leave a lot of wiggle room.
It is absolutely true that the county government should have set aside funding over time to pay for stormwater infrastructure repair and replacement. Unfortunately, that was not done, and there is absolutely nothing our board can do about the past.
If the Core Infrastructure SPLOST passes, all of the county’s funding will go into an “enterprise” fund that, by state law, can only be used for the programmed repairs.
Your current Board of Commissioners has vowed to make things right and take care of problems.
This past Thursday, your current Board of Commissioners hired a new firm for engineering in our Fayette County Water System. The old firm had been in place and the professional services had not been bid out for over 30 years!
We brought in the most recognized water specialist in the United States, winning international awards for water treatment services and engineering as well as receiving numerous awards for business ethics. We are also looking for a top-notch director for the water system.
In the first six months, your current Board of Commissioners put an end to the consistent deficit spending of the past. In addition, openness, transparency and constituent communication have improved exponentially.
Just like the way we are trying to address the past inattention of funding the repair and replacement of our aging stormwater infrastructure currently in the ground, we made the problems known and then began to turn things around.
We have certainly had aging stormwater culverts fail recently and we have had to scrape the funds together for the replacements. Obviously, this is not a professional way to do business.
So what will happen if the two-year Core Infrastructure SPLOST gets voted down? We will do our best to keep things patched together.
Our local cities, after bearing the brunt of the recession, are not only strapped for funds, but they also have certain existing infrastructure maintenance requirements that are almost non-funded.
The decision on whether we tax ourselves one cent for two years to catch up on repairs and maintenance is entirely up to you. Nevertheless, I remind you that being competitive on attracting jobs and high quality citizens depends upon keeping our existing systems from failing.
Keep in mind that funding pulled from other essential line items to make core infrastructure repairs will further weaken our financial position and make us less competitive than other counties.
If you opt not to pass the measure, we will do our utmost to keep things going and we will keep fighting the good fight. Personally, I love my home folks and you can count on us to continue to eliminate the good old boy system and to try to keep the train on the tracks.
If you have any questions or concerns related to the Core Infrastructure SPLOST, you can use the special email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get you a prompt reply.
Steve Brown, chairman
Fayette County Board of Commissioners