5th letter: Lesser of two weevils

[Editor’s note: Paul Lentz has written a series of letters exploring the dilemma underlying the SPLOST issue. This is the fifth and last in that series of letters.]

Once, there was a little boy who wanted a boll weevil for a pet. The pet store only had two, a big one and a little one. Thinking the little one wouldn’t eat as much, the boy chose the lesser of the two weevils.

So far, I’ve pointed out four objections to the proposed Core Infrastructure SPLOST, and one reason to vote for it. In case you didn’t read the earlier letters, here’s a summary of the objections.

1. The county’s “Core Infrastructure SPLOST Plan” lacks justification for many of the projects and appears to be not much more than “smoke and mirrors.” It certainly does not justify going from a $667,000 annual budget to more than $13 million in taxes.

2. I am philosophically opposed to taxes being set aside for a specific government service, because when budgets are planned, that money and that service are “off the table” for discussion; the service doesn’t have to compete with other services. (The one exception is a stormwater management fee assessed equitably and across the board based on impervious surfaces: roofs, roads, parking lots.)

3. The county appears to be commingling money from different sources and allocating it for different purposes in a shell game.

4. It seems that Peachtree City, Fayetteville, and Tyrone property owners who already pay a stormwater management fee are going to be paying for stormwater functions in the unincorporated county through the general fund budget. These functions should be paid for by a county stormwater management fee.

On the other hand, I intend to vote for the SPLOST because I believe it will be good for Peachtree City.

Having served on the Needs Assessment Committee, I became as familiar with the city’s budget as a layperson not on city staff could be. I know how carefully the staff has squeezed every dollar of revenue. I know something about road repair from a summer on a county road crew.

I know that the staff has put together lists of roads and paths desperately in need of repair. I know that asphalt doesn’t deteriorate at a constant rate, but that the rate of deterioration rises nearly exponentially after about eight to 10 years.

I know that funding road and path repair with a millage increase would cost the average homeowner $600 to $800, while the SPLOST would cost the average homeowner between $300 and $400. That makes the SPLOST the lesser of the two weevils.

This does not mean that the county is off the hook. We all need to demand greater transparency and accountability. We need to demand clarity of planning, and insight into projects proposed on or to benefit private property.

We residents of municipalities with stormwater management programs and fees must demand that stormwater management functions in the unincorporated county be paid for by residents of those areas through a stormwater fee or other funding vehicle that clearly segregates the money from our property taxes.

I have often said that we must take back our government. Never has that been more true than today.

Paul Lentz

Peachtree City, Ga.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Puzzling Numbers

The $400.00 for two years of SPLOST is not the sum total of the money needed for repairs. It leaves about $6 million of needed current repairs unfunded, after 5 years, and has nothing for ongoing needs.

Now even more with $500K being taken out to study the 54 Corridor, etc.

The $600 to $800 millage rate increase is completely out of bounds. The combined 1.25 and .372 increases raised my bill $106.76 per years, giving an additional $2.59 million a year. For comparison, that is an additional $12.95 over 5 years compared to the $14.6 of the SPLOST.

Husband and Fat...
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Joined: 07/23/2012
Had a feeling

Had a feeling 2 weeks ago you were toying with the readers. Then last week, when a commissioner responded without taking a shot, I knew the last edition would play the spin.

Mr. Lentz, you were very detailed in your explanation for voting against the splost, but I could not figure out how you came up with the $600-$800 increase in the PTC millage increase. Can you please explain how you came up with this number since there was no supporting documentation regarding this claim.

Since you were a graduate of the Citadel, I was a little surprised about your final decision. Sometimes the principal of the matter is more important than the cost. Your spin makes it appear that even though our county leaders failed to justify the projects, are comingling funds, are double taxing city residents, and you philosophically oppose taxes being set aside for a specific government service, the bottom line is that principals don't really matter, only money.

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