Chase: ‘You answered too late’

A discussion of questions and answers doesn’t sound like an editorial topic. However, recent exchanges with the Fayette County Commissioners have changed my mind.

Perhaps it will be easier to understand my concerns by using an analogy.

Five hours after the final exam, a senior walks into his high school teacher’s room and hands in his test. Proudly he says, “I have answered all of the questions so now I can graduate.”

Stunned, the teacher reads his answers to the questions and says, “This is hard to believe. The test period ended five hours ago. And I can see that many of your answers are just a jumble of words that don’t answer the questions.”

“But I answered all of the questions.” He states with self-assurance. “I deserve to get my diploma.”

“Maybe if you had turned these answers in before the test-time was up, we could have at least talked about what your answers are. But this is not acceptable. I can’t give you a passing grade and you may miss your graduation.”

In a similar fashion, our Fayette County Commissioners put on a show of answering questions, but five weeks late! They voted in their project list and then decided it would be a fine idea to answer citizens’ questions.

What nonsense. We needed answers when it might have made a difference. And now with a ton of self-assurance, they proclaim; “Hey, look everyone, we answered all the questions!” It would be a good joke on all of us if it wasn’t going to cost so many of our tax dollars.

For months, I asked questions, in every forum available, and I was met with deafening silence. What good could it possibly have done to go to their last commission meeting and ask those same questions again?

What do you think? Should we give our commissioners a passing grade? I certainly hope not.

Here is a question I can answer. Has anything changed since they published their list of 181 projects in early July until the vote to adopt the list was approved in early September?

The answer is yes, they did make two changes. The cost of repairing the Longview Dam went up $197,168 and the cost of the work on the Emerald Lake Dam went down $197,168.

Don’t you just love coincidences? But this is open government, they listened to us didn’t they? After 20 pages of answered questions, what more do we know now? Oops, I asked more questions.

Perhaps they should add another line to their “open government policy” that says “Answers-R-Us.” Better yet, that could even be their reelection slogan. But there would be an unwritten footnote which says you should not expect understandable answers to your questions. And above all, don’t expect common sense to be involved in any way.

You can answer the important question about their stormwater project list by voting no this November. I see nothing positive related to this proposed list, so do everyone a favor and give them an answer they will understand.

Dennis Chase
Fayetteville, Ga.

Citizen Bob
Citizen Bob's picture
Joined: 05/06/2010
mrobinson & long term...

You're correct- the county needs a long term response to maintain infrastructure like culverts, dams, and drains.

We're currently faced with a significant backlog of neglect that accumulated over too many years to be remedied with existing annual revenues. I'm not talking about new projects, just returning existing infrastructure to a state of good repair.

The proposed 1c SPLOST, to take effect for 24 months, would catch us up on that neglected maintenance. Sustained maintenance for the long term would be funded through an annual county storm water fee beginning about four years from now.

It's impractical to fund the neglected improvements through fee money- the bill's simply too large for the amount of annual collections.

I lobbied for two years in opposition to the metro-wide T-SPLOST because it provided too little benefit for the 10-year's worth of taxes. After examining this SPLOST and questioning the commissioners, the county administrator, and hearing Mr. Chase's position, I'm voting to approve this measure.

Bob Ross
Peachtree City

mrobinson_ptc's picture
Joined: 05/21/2013
Perhaps I can interest you in a loan...

Fayette County has $16.8 million (I'll just say $17 million) in backlog projects. getting the SPLOST passed, they want to essentially pay cash to get these much needed projects fixed, if I'm reading the materials correctly.

And then let's throw in the other $24 million dollars for the municipalities needs? A municipality I don't live in (Fayetteville, Tyrone, Brooks)?

PTC has $14 million in backlog expenses they need to spend?

If I buy $7,800 a year in things that would have sales tax associated with them (I'm assuming a $260 expense for groceries, etc. every two weeks), that means I will be paying $78 in taxes for two years, then I'll also get a $26 per year stormwater bill in year three. After three years, I pay $182 in sales taxes and utility fees to fund fixes I will never get any return on, or I pay $78 ($26 x 3) to fix the stormwater problem that directly affects me in the county? Let the municipalities handle their own
issues, just like PTC did with their stormwater. Otherwise, consolidate the governments so we don't have to have these arguments.

Can someone cite specific, measurable data to reflect how much of that sales tax will be paid by those who do not own property in Fayette County? squander my tax money and don't plan for maintenance, then you come back and say we need more short term and BEG the municipalities to join you by throwing them a bone to lump their needs in to, but we're still going to stick you with another bill later?

Swallow your pride, raise the taxes enough to fund the fixes and pay them with bond debt over the long term. Spread the cost so that those who "use" the system over its useful life have to pay into it over its life. If I leave Fayette County after two years, those fixes are completely funded by me, not the next guy who comes in.

What's the point of having such a good bond rating if you don't finance things over time and spread the payments out? Yes, in 20-30 years you are paying more, but you're not using all of my money to do it.

Steve Brown
Steve Brown's picture
Joined: 12/02/2009
Not sure what else we could do

We gave Mr. Chase a personal invitation to ask his "unanswered" questions on the official record for our October 10 meeting - preserved in digital format for everyone to see. We did this to be totally accountable for answering all questions.

Mr. Chase attended the meeting, but refused to ask any questions to appear on the official record.

Countless hours of professional staff time, as well as from our hired engineers, resulted in having their work described as a "stupid wild a-- guess" by Mr. Chase and Mr. Lentz in the newspaper last week. Not only is such a statement uncalled for, but it also totally false.

The infrastructure is failing under the roads and the taxpayers will have to pay for the repair/replacement as each element fails. The question is how do the taxpayers want to pay for it?

mrobinson_ptc's picture
Joined: 05/21/2013
Please send me my bill...

Unless you are going to make this SPLOST permanent, I'd prefer you pay for long term maintenance and fixes with a long term solution - the stormwater utility fee that was originally proposed. Build up the funds, get bonds, pay for the fixes and build for continuing maintenance and upkeep of the system.

Same thing for the municipalities - stop looking for the quick fix, and stop trying to pay for long term solutions with short term cash infusions.

Paying for infrastructure fixes with a short term sales tax is, in my opinion, making citizens actually pay more per year in the long term, since you'll just have to raise property taxes eventually when you have the fix or maintain these assets again.

So, hold your nose and get the utility going, Fayette County. Cities, raise your property taxes. But when you do that, make sure that you actually fund the core infrastructure fixes and their proper maintenance.

In my opinion, prioritize funding on the true essentials FIRST - sufficiently funding public safety, road and path maintenance including the stormwater funding, proper water quality and management.

Quit talking about it - start making decisions on funding, and quit asking us for our "permission" via surveys, SPLOST votes, etc. We elect you to make these decisions - make them.

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
mrobinson_ptc wrote:

Quit talking about it - start making decisions on funding, and quit asking us for our "permission" via surveys, SPLOST votes, etc. We elect you to make these decisions - make them.

EXACTLY. PTC under the Haddix reign of error has this same problem. Just do it. Your permission to do these things are our votes......if we don't like your ideas, we vote you out. This is not a pure democracy or government run by popular opinion at the moment or polling.

It's a great way to highly avoid issues that could get you defeated in your next political campaign, but it's a coward's way out. Don't want to hear about past commissioners, past this, past that, either. Everyone elected anywhere in the USA knew they were inheriting problems that had to be addressed. Jacking-up taxes in the short-term with no long-range plan at all besides "can I get away with this and still be re-elected?" ain't a plan.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012

The plan was in place and agreed to last year. It was a political play they made to be liked by the loud minority instead of just saying we can't do anything about it (like the promise to stop the WFB).

The splost should have included the proposed fee/tax structure were to use when the proposed splost ends. But since that was the major grip, they'll just kick that down the road to the next commission.

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