Commission to SPLOST doubters: Come grill us about tax . . . please

The Fayette County Commission is asking residents to grill them and county staff about the upcoming proposed core infrastructure Special Purpose Option Sales Tax.

The county wants to use its proceeds from the tax to pay for stormwater repairs and improvements in unincorporated Fayette County. As a pot sweetener, the county has pledged to halt collection of its stormwater fee for four years if the two-year sales tax is approved.

Citizens with questions on the SPLOST are asked to appear at the commission’s 7 p.m. meeting Thursday night to ask their questions on the record. The commission meets at the Stonewall county government complex in downtown Fayetteville across from the American Legion Log Cabin.

The SPLOST idea from the commission was born from a series of town hall meetings in which a number of county residents asked if the cities could be made to help share the funding for the stormwater repairs.

The county has identified 181 projects, including some critical dam projects that could result in the loss of life or damage to property downstream if the dams were to fail in the future.

Descriptions of projects including costs and other questions and answers are available at www.fayettecountyga.gov.

The commission issued a press release last week announcing the Q&A opportunity. In the release, Commissioner Randy Ognio noted that letters in the newspapers have accused the county of “not providing answers to questions and hiding things from the public.”

“We have consistently met with the letter writers and answered all their questions in the past, so we are asking to have the questions issued on the record and we will supply the answers in the newspapers and on the county’s website,” Ognio said.

Commissioner David Barlow noted that out of town shoppers would help with revenue for the sales tax.

“We all realize there should have been funding set aside over the years to cover these costs, but unfortunately that was not done and we are now faced with mounting problems that need to be repaired or replaced,” Barlow said.

Commission Chairman Steve Brown said having the questions published in the open will help address accusations that the county has deployed “smoke and mirrors” on the issue.

Commissioner Charles “Chuck” Oddo added that if the SPLOST passes or not, the stormwater problems will remain until they are fixed “and financing the projects will cost the citizens more money than the two years of sales tax.”

In a letter to the editor, Brown pitches the sales tax as a way to bring Fayette back to prominence in the metro Atlanta area. In the letter, he laments that Forsyth County “now takes the top honors with schools, median income and median home values,” and they are also attracting top job prospects, Brown said.

“One thing we have to achieve is getting our infrastructure back in working order,” Brown said. “It is difficult to regain the winning edge when you cannot keep essential elements functioning.”

Husband and Fat...
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$539,300 + Estimated to be spent for Right of Way

Category 1 - $8,000
Category 2 - $531,300
Category's 3 & 4 - Not shared

Commission wants us to spend over $500,000 so that they can pay fellow county residents to upgrade or install storm water pipe on their property. This is in addition to the money to do the work and then reseed.

All so their property and surrounding property gains value with less flooding.

These are costs that should not be paid out, especially when homes were built in floor plains or have any code violations.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Numbers

We have $20 million in projects needing down now. That is because the policy of stretching the spending put us very far behind.

Our share of the distribution is $13.3 million to be spent over five years.

The cost is $200.00 a year for 2 years, or $80.00 per year averaged for 5 years.

At the end of 5 years another $3 million in projects will be needed, so we will be $10 million behind.

There will be another Stormwater increase in about 3 years if we remain on our present fiscal course.

Yes, we have Stormwater, path and street needs. The issue is how to pay.

On our present Budget thinking, in 2018 we will still be spending more than we bring in.

We seriously need to get our spending under control.

It will not happen under Fleisch or Learnard. Dienhart talks about change but all he as proposed in cuts in the PD and Fire Departments.

Logsdon has supported the current spending practices and wants the SPLOST.

Some serious thinking is needed here.

Peachtree City Mayor
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The Comprehensive Strategic Plan Proposal
Is in the Updates Forum

Allstar American
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More Lies from Haddix

Please just stop. Dienhart has not just proposed cuts from Police and Fire. Please stop lying. I see you there when he speaks, so I know you have heard him. Please just stop lying and let us send you on your way. I cant believe you run your campaign built on lies and bile.

lawrence
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Valid Point Mayor Haddix

Why not support the Splost, and at the same time work to reduce citywide expenses plus set up a reserve to complete the projects?

Wouldn't the Splost ease the burden of deep cuts immediately and allow the city to reduce expenses over time to get the budget in line with what we spend plus set up and maintain a permanent maintanence reserve?

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Same Argument

Given for the last 4 years as to why to pass new taxes, fees, etc. Tomorrow will always be better. Once passed, no changes have occurred, except more tax and debt. Nothing changes.

Remember in 2010 the 5 year plan had it all solved. No more tax increases were needed. It was done.

Well, then came the 2012 tax increase, Stormwater 137% increase, etc.

Here we are in 2013. Again, in 5 years it will all be solved. End time of 2015 is now 2018. But in 2018 we will still be spending more than we bring in.

You run a business. Do you spend first and plan later? Of course not. So why should we?

All the Mayoral candidates, except Fleisch and Logsdon agree on that point. All the Council candidates except Learnard and Robinson also agree.

I have discussed this with many people, including the City Manager. All agree we need the a Comprehensive Strategic Plan. The OnePTC said it was a top priority. On the Needs 87% said no more debt without voter permission. No more tax increase.

That is a clear message of citizen dissatisfaction.

The process for a Plan is:
1. OnePTC + Needs Survey + Townhall early next year.
2. Formulate service levels, priorities and goals. That includes adding what is wanted but not there and reducing or eliminating what is there but not wanted. And yes, the OnePTC identified several areas where we can save money.
3. Look at public/private opportunities, like with the Tennis Center.
4. Stop competing with the private sector. They do a better job.
5. Establish spending limits.
6. See where we are fiscally, then determine how to proceed on tax, fee and debt levels.
7. Create the Budget.

We already use the PIP (special reserves) approach to allocate short and long term funding. Problem is Imker proposed and succeeded in getting the majority to go along with cutting or eliminating several of them. It made the Budget look better, but did so by massive can kicking.

For clarity, the Reserve, for us, is the designated funds maintained for emergency use. It were never supposed to be a part of annual funding. This has escalated the tax, debt, etc increases seen the last few years.

You hear about a Zero Balanced Budget. We do a form of it since you cannot do a full ZBB every year. It requires citizen input and a Comprehensive Plan.

I have yet to see a Council that will do the cuts once they get the money to spend on what they want. That is why we have to do the Plan and cuts first, then see where we are and need to go.

Don't forget, the SPLOST are funds outside the millage rate, as is the Stormwater Feel.

Also, this Council refuses to look at them as a total. They always look at them individually.

Look at the 2005 SPLOST. No consideration of the tax impact when annual Budget were done. No plans for when it was spent, it was stretched to make their Budget look better while maintenance fell farther and father behind.

It has to change.

Dienhart talks of change, but, he rejected the OnePTC and Needs Assessment findings. He didn't even want to have findings. He rejects having a Plan and says he will solve it. All he talks about is Fire and Police.

Not going to happen. It takes a 3 vote.

Without a Plan, Council is a rudderless ship.

Peachtree City Mayor
donhaddix.com
The Comprehensive Strategic Plan Proposal
Is in the Updates Forum

Spyglass
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These pretzels are making me thirsty

Thankfully, soon this will be over.

Allstar American
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Haddix Lies, round 2

"Dienhart talks of change, but, he rejected the OnePTC and Needs Assessment findings" Source this. Not your website. Look at the video on the city website. Learnard and Dienhart both encouraged to set up the needs assessment. Give me a link to where he said he was against OnePTC. You are a liar, and this city deserves better.

Rudderless ship? You are supposed to provide leadership. You have not. This is why we are in the situation we are in. Don't you get it?

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He won't agree with that, Lawrence

It makes to much sense- plus he would be agree with Dienhart.

lawrence
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xx

xx duplicate

Peter Pfeifer
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AHG Sales Tax Rates

I believe you are mistaken regarding the current Fayette Sales Tax Rates. There is a base of 5%, and Fayette County has a 1% ESPLOST that expires in March of next year. The Road SPLOST expired in 2010 (the Library SPLOST expired in 1993) The total Sales Tax Rate in Fayette is 6%. That rate is tied for the lowest in Georgia and shared by only 9 counties statewide.

A 1% increase is therefore a large percentage of the current Sales Tax Rate. I am opposing this SPLOST. I agree with something Cal wrote. The “S” in SPLOST stands for “Special”. It should be used for “Special” needs, not routine maintenance which should be funded in the General Fund. Maintenance (including paving cart paths) is a routine maintenance need, not a “Special” need

AtHomeGym
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Herr Piper & Sales Tax

Hey, all I did was copy what was on my sales statement!

lawrence
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ESPLOST

ESPLOST was voted and renewed last year so it continues. Thanks to the ESPLOST committee, they moved the vote to the presidential election cycle to maximize stakeholder involvement.
It continues for another 5 years after next year.

MajorMike
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It's a matter of trust

I don't think that there is anyone on these blogs that would disagree with the fact that the infrastructure work desperately needs to be done, the equation simply boils down to a matter of trust. Do we trust our County Commission to do what they say they are going to do with the money or don't we?

The last Fayette County SPLOST vote went down in flames because our elected leaders at that time chose to pursue both their personal interests and the "Greater Atlanta" philosophy rather than the best interests of the bulk of Fayette County's voters. I see the current Commission working hard to rebuild that trust with what has been, at least up until now, sound, measured, decisions coupled with an open mind / open door policy.

As it stands right now, I will vote for this splost. Be assured that considering the state our Country is in, voting for any new tax is not an easy decision.

AtHomeGym
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Major Mike & 'Trust'/SPLOST

I agree with your rationale. We need more revenue and sources are few and far between. While I have considerable respect for Dennis Chase's opinion, I also note he doesn't have an alternative proposal. I will say I oppose using County funds to repair Private Property unless some dummy signed the county up to do that and we are legally liable. Having purchased Propane today, I see I already pay a 1% SPLOST fee and another 1% ESPLOST fee--whoop-de-doo! Continuation of a SPLOST won't hurt most and all out-of-county shoppers get to play too! I will vote "YES".

Husband and Fat...
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Have you looked it over?

There are still so many unanswered issues. That is why they opened the floor tonight. I have no doubt in commissions sincerity. I do have doubts that they understand all of the civil engineering issues and though I think we need to fund some repairs, it is not as bad as they are being advised.

For instance, many of the reports are worst case guesses. It says so in the report. What is not understood unless you whittle thru the report is the fact that the storm system hasn't been maintained and cleaned out. If they actually funded this line item, someone could clean out the silt, or add stone to control erosion.

I have seen some items on the report about streams eroding because residents are clogging the path when they dispose their yard waste and damming the flow. They can fix the problem, but it will just reaccur if they don't fine these people for illegal dumping.

What about the homes built in flood plains?

We can't pick and choose which private residences are going to profit, nor can we say these homeowners shouldn't get paid for disturbing their property to run a pipe. There is a LOT of money earmarked for right of way payments that will only benefit the homeowner.

Mr. Chase did present alternatives. Mr. Brown choose to belittle him instead of providing engineered feedback, until tonight.

There is no doubt we need funding, but to what extent? We can get 5 engineers to look at the items and get 4 different opinions, and all with caveats.

Personally, I think they need to reinstate the already approved fee, and start cleaning, stoning and figuring out why the erosion is occurring. Bet we will find some due to poor inspections. How will the county guarantee that inspections and compaction will be performed correctly. Because if not, we will be right back here again.

Commission put themselves in this bind because they wanted to be liked and put a hold on the fee. They were ready to start the repairs economically this year, they can do it again next year by reimposing the fee and stop kicking the cost down the road.

Spyglass
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I generally favor a splost over property tax increases myself

Seems a fair way to raise funds to me..

TinCan
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This SPLOST

I generally agree Spyglass. However when this one has me paying for county property owners water problems in addition to my own city water problems, I'm opposed.

Husband and Fat...
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TinCan

If you haven't read the reports, please do so. There is no studies, just costs. It's a wish list made up because commission was afraid to follow thru with a fee approved during an earlier commission meeting.

There will be many home owners paid to run or relocate utilities in their yard that benefits their home values and that of their neighbors.

Thanks to the EPA, this is a forever fee/tax to maintain clean water, just get this fee over with instead of kicking it down the road for the next commission to deal with disgruntled taxpayers.

The list is a scare tactic with worse case conditions and I doubt reasonable people would agree to pay if presented by a service contractor.

AtHomeGym
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H & F & SPLOST (I guess)

Having a really hard time understanding this post--you got a clearer version somewhere?

Husband and Fat...
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Sorry AHG, it's been a long day

Everyone needs to take a look at the splost proposition and think back to why its here in the first place. The county had a hard time funding every expense during the recent hard times. Last year a fee was passed to help us address the storm water issues, which was really mandated with the Clean Water Act.

Some residents took exception to this fee and the structure it was based upon. Pervious and impervious surfaces. No one was immune from this fee (churches/schools). Commission listened to the people during the town hall meetings and had a choice. It's my belief that they wanted to gain favor of the loud mass and they revoked the fee, and will leave it up to the people to vote on it, so they won't look bad or make an executive decision. No one ever asked the question, but I suspect that more people paid the fee and got a refund, than those that attended the town hall meetings to complain.

So here we are now, almost a year later and nothing but emergency work has been accomplished. Not even maintenance.

After looking at the report and the photos, it's my belief they presented a chicken little, the sky is falling approach, issuing a report lacking the full picture. Yes, we have issues, but most are a result of a lack of maintenance, and can be fix more economically than presented. Some have been presented and ignored.

The whole idea of the clean water act is to route the surface water to underground pipes efficiently and slowly to the designated resovoirs without bringing the silt and debris with it.

To do this you need more than "replacement parts". You need to study why things fail. One project showed erosion caused by illegal dumping yard waste into a dry stream and hampered to fix by illegal fencing installed by homeowners.

There is a private lake surrounded by homes that needs repairs benefitting only the homeowners. By the way, a handful of these homes were in foreclosure recently and the repairs will only benefit them.

There's hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for right of way payments to homeowners for work that the homeowners and their neighbors will benefit from.

What we need is maintenance to clean out the pipes so the silt and moisture doesn't continue to rot the pipes. The splost doesn't provide any costs for maintenance.

If the county doesn't change the way they approve building plans and inspections, were bound to fail. There are countless pipes being upgraded in size or replaced due to bad engineering, plan review, and the poor installation and lack of proper backfill compaction. There is a project planned due to someone illegally filling in changing the topography directing water towards a location not designed for drainage. Why are we paying for this.

Like Cal said, this is not special, it's maintenance that needs to be charged every year. Special is a new jail or new clean water filter to keep our water clear and free of contaminants.

Husband and Fat...
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You're right

I wrote this (via voice text) driving home.

Will respond latter tonight, hopefully with more clarity.

Husband and Fat...
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Hey (Silent Bob) Ross

You've been silent as a church mouse regarding this splost.

In the recent past you always let everyone know your thoughts in your letters to the editor.

Can one assume that since we haven't heard a peep either way, you don't approve?

NUK_1
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H&F: Think I might rather hear Jay's opinion

It would be more colorful :)

And yeah, let's hear the local Tea Party's position on the SPLOST....would be interesting, especially Bost Hogg's take on it.

Husband and Fat...
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Yes, Jay's opinion would be more colorful

The Tea Party's silence is very telling.

I like to pull Bob's chain every now and then, but in all fairness, he is a sharp guy. When he sinks his teeth into an issue he believes in, he doesn't keep quiet.

I asked for Tea Party input a few weeks ago, but it must have missed the radar, because I doubt it was ignored, lol.

The Tea Party's silence, I believe is telling. They don't approve of this splost, like me, but don't want to say so publicly. If they approved, I am sure we would have seen weekly letters to the editor, blogs, and endorsements on their website.

Husband and Fat...
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Good Idea

But perhaps commission could postpone until the meeting on the 24th. Two days notice to prepare and rearrange our schedules is kind of difficult for those that have work and family commitments already lined up.