Friday, October 24, 2014

County asks for SPLOST questions

2013-10-09

By Pat Cooper

With a light agenda this coming Thursday for their regularly scheduled meeting, the Fayette Board of Commissioners, in keeping with their promise of openness and transparency, is prepared to answer any questions about the upcoming ballot question on the Core Infrastructure SPLOST. The commissioners are asking anyone with Core Infrastructure SPLOST questions to attend the October 10 board meeting to have their questions logged into the official record.
The commission will then answer all questions in writing and submit them to the news media, as well as posting them to the county website.
Earlier in the year, the Board of Commissioners held three town hall meetings and issued a Core Infrastructure SPLOST email address, stormwaterinput@fayettecountyga.gov, for citizens to ask questions or make comments. All of the email queries from citizens were answered with copies given to the local newspapers.
“There have been a couple of letters in the newspapers accusing the county of not providing answers to questions and hiding things from the public,” said Commissioner Randy Ognio. “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 web site.”
Individual project descriptions, project costs and previous questions and answers can be found on the county's website at www.fayettecountyga.gov.
The fact that the county has decades of stormwater infrastructure maintenance that has gone by the wayside, neither maintained nor replaced on any schedule, led to, first, the inception of a Stormwater Utility to address the problems and, second, a fee that was meted out to unincorporated county residents, who were not happy with the new fee. So unhappy, in fact, that the current commission held three town hall meetings to address the problem.
The SPLOST idea arose from those meetings, suggested by residents who attended. The Core Infrastructure SPLOST has 181 stormwater projects in the unincorporated county ranging from small culvert projects costing thousands of dollars up to dam projects costing over a million dollars. The list is comprised of maintenance and repair for existing infrastructure in the ground.
“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,” said Commissioner David Barlow. “A two-year SPLOST is a good way to get these projects in a state of good repair with shoppers from out-of-town sharing the cost.”
“There have been accusations of ‘smoke and mirrors’ with little in the way of facts to back those claims up, so having the questions on the official record and supplying the answers to the general public will show we are not hiding anything,” said Chairman Steve Brown.”
“These are essential repairs to our existing infrastructure that will keep our roads open and protect citizens from having their property damaged from flooding,” said Commissioner Allen McCarty.
Commissioner Chuck Oddo added, “It's important to understand that whether or not the Core Infrastructure SPLOST passes, the problems will remain until we fix them and financing the projects will cost the citizens more money than the two-years of sales tax.”
Citizens are asked to please bring a copy of their questions in writing to speed the turnaround for the public answers. Citizens unable to attend the October 10 meeting can submit their questions prior to the meeting to County Clerk Floyd Jones at fjones@fayettecountyga.gov and he will insure they are inserted into the official record.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the commission meeting room at 140 Stonewall Avenue.

 

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