Do we really want this SPLOST?
The citizens of Fayette County got the worst end of the deal from a SPLOST vote in 2004 which forced the West Fayetteville Bypass on us. In my opinion, this set of commissioners are about to do the same thing — that is, if we let them.
In 2004, we had next to nothing to tell us what we were being asked to vote for but agreed to pay for transportation projects anyway. This year, similar in some ways to what existed in 2004, we have a list of 181 projects they say must be fixed. But what do you really know about any of them, other than the fact they are very expensive? The answer is virtually nothing.
One example is the $1.4 million they want to spend on the Longview Dam. I recommended an alternative of draining the lake and installing a box culvert for approximately $600,000. I asked why spend over twice as much and I got — nothing.
They placed a set of plans in the libraries showing 181 projects and asked for public comment. In response to questions and comments, they changed — nothing. At their public hearing last Aug. 29, I offered an alternative list of four projects from their list that they could fix immediately, and they said — nothing. I pushed hard, for a stormwater drainage plan that would lead to a logical set of plans for each watershed and got — nothing.
After three years of trying to find out what was planned and why, always getting the same nothing response, I reached the only conclusion I could, and that was to give them — nothing.
No money until we, the taxpayers, have a sensible plan. I am asking you to do the same, give them the same thing they have been giving us — nothing.
A vote for their 181 projects is like signing a blank check as we have almost no information on what those many culvert replacements will do for us. And sad as it may seem, they have no idea of what the impacts will be, either. For them to continue to repeat, “We have to do something,” doesn’t make it even close to being acceptable.
As a group, this set of commissioners cannot seem to get beyond their “issues,” defined by them as meaning how do we raise the money? How to fund capital improvement projects is near the end of the planning process, not the beginning.
I raised serious questions about several of the proposed projects which they didn’t answer. I received political non-answers, answers to questions I didn’t ask, or, more often, total silence.
I am voting against this SPLOST because it is wrong. Before I put money on the table, I ask why, what is it for? So should you.
[Dennis Chase, now retired, was a fish and wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 26 years. Since retiring, he has worked as a consultant for Fayette County on environmental concerns, as a volunteer with the Line Creek Association of Fayette County, and has published numerous newspaper columns.]