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Ending fee would be 'step backward'

Posted: September 12, 2012 - 12:07am

Editor:

Re the Sept. 9 editorial, “Repeal storm water fee? Idea is all wet”:

I had the pleasure to serve as a Columbia County commissioner from 1999-2003. During my term, I served as chairmen of the Development Committee, which was tasked with looking at and implementing the stormwater fee. After much research and public discussion, the Board of Commissioners voted and unanimously approved the fee.

There was a small, but very vocal, group that opposed the fee from the onset. They even went so far as to file a lawsuit, which the Georgia Supreme Court ultimately ruled 5-0 in favor of Columbia County.

I found it rather amusing that Commissioner Charles Allen made a promise during his campaign to repeal the stormwater utility fee. This county has been blessed with much development but this has created many problems with water run-off. The stormwater utility fee was and is one of the best ways to fund solutions to these issues. While not perfect, it is a huge step in the right direction for a growing county.

I took a lot of personal heat and criticism for my stand in supporting this fee, but sometimes you have to do what you think is right regardless of the outcome. Where would we be now if we didn’t have this utility fund to solve our run-off and flooding issues? To repeal it would be a huge step backward.

Frank Spears

Evans

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Comments (12)

soapy_725

Oratory from Mr. Spears

Yes, Mr Spears, we all remember you telling us at the not so little meeting (standing room only) that the armed deputy standing by you would keep order in the meeting. And though we were told all who registered would be heard, when the facts were presented by articulate informed citizens you put a quick end to the festivities. Citizens asked for a vote that night. There was a quorum, until the distinguished commissioner from Grovetown, got up and left without a word. We will not forget. We will not forget the lawsuit that preceded the Rain Tax. The lawsuit filed because CC engineering flooded a woman's property. She won and "some" of the citizens had to pay for the lack of planning. But it will continue because of the caliber of representation available in CC. It will continue because of the mission statement of CC. "Housing and schools, YES. Adequate roads and drainage. NO. Whatever the developers need, YES."

soapy_725

Credibility??

Mr. Spears, while serving as commissioner did you have anything to do with the choice of location for the new law center/courthouse/ library? Did your insurance office located at that site belong to you personally?

soapy_725

CC is a drainfield

Yes there are problems. Engineering gets paid to manage those problems. Proactive vs. reactive. CC drains from an elevation of 400 ft in Harlem to 150 ft at the river. Numerous creeks and wetlands comprise CC. The whole county is a downward water flow. Ignoring the topography of the land is ludicrous. Selling swamp land to home buyers is criminal. At least it is in other parts of America. Continuing to pour concrete and asphalt in urban sprawl, that is the major contributor to the "New" flooding issues. CC says, what your choice of poison. Here is the bill.

fspears

Thank you Soapy for the very kind words....

It is so nice to know that you are still thinking of me.. I do not know you, but would love for you to give me a call anytime to talk about your feelings about storm water fee. My office phone is 706 860 1233.

Frank

colcores

Paying for nothing

Mr. Spears,
How would you like to pay the fee each month and when your property gets flooded the county says no thanks to help with the problem because you "live on a state road"? The county is the entity that is taking my money not the state, and refuses to address the issue but wants that money every month. You better believe I have an issue with this tax!

soapy_725

fspears, since you called me out personally

I am a 36 year resident of CC. My gr.....great grandfather John McDonald received a grant for land in St Paul's Parish in ca. 1774 and settle at the site of Old Louisville Rd. and Euchee Creek. I know CC before it was CC. I'll be at your office with an old topographical CC (Dot) map. But that will do not good. Individual options and motives seldom change. You were arrogant that night in Evans. You were disrespectful of the citizens whom you claimed to represent. When you are ruled by government with guns, you can tend to be angry and frustrated. I personally bear you no ill will. I would not vote you to CC office again if I had the opportunity. The Rain Tax and the meetings were no different that previous meeting about housing units being built without adequate roadways in CC. Same outcome. CC always seems to know the number of projected housing units, but can't plan for how to get to and from same. One single family home equal 3+ automobiles with today's families. If it is an apartment or Section 8, who knows how many cars will fit in the yard.

The military gave you numbers of 3000 active military added to Ft. Gordon. Then they gave you a factor of 3.3 times for the actual total once support people were added. Ten thousand new homes needed. I would posture that they left the infrastructure engineering to CC staff.

Eye balls light up and the bulldozers came out.

soapy_725

Dirt pushed into Little Kiokee Creek

flood plain, bulldozer backed over dirt a couple of times and the foundations are ready to be poured. This is the reality of CC planning.

Connemara Place on Hereford Farm Rd. Same planning. Dirt pushed into the creek there and foundations poured. The soil was so unstable the AC unit slabs slid away from the homes.

Fluid mechanics works. Artificially altering the natural course of water, even ground water will result in issues downstream.

soapy_725

the wonders of modern technology

We can find Mr. Spear words from 2000.

Originally created 12/30/00

Spearheading a guilt trip for fee

By Editor, The Chronicle

Regarding "Officials describe tax need," (news story, Dec. 18):
Commissioner Frank "Ramrod" Spears .. wishes that every Columbia County resident could see a sinkhole swallowing part of a house.
I feel sorry for the owners of that house and would be the first to say they need help. Having said that, I would like for every Columbia County resident to understand how this was allowed to happen. Mr. Spears claims his storm water tax (fee) will fix all these problems, if we will only take his word for it. We just don't understand. ...
The question people should ask is,"How did this happen in the first place and why will only a special area pay for all the damages?" Mr. Spears is trying to hang a guilt trip on everyone to push his "fee."
Let me refer you to a Dec. 17 letter in The Chronicle by Bill Thigpen. When you apply for a building permit you sign a contract and pay for an inspector to make sure you are following county codes. ... Where was the inspector when this house was built and who was the builder? ...
We live over 10 miles from where this has happened and the "water runoff" from our house does not run anywhere close to that area. If it's the opinion of the powers-that-be that we should pay for all those repairs in certain areas, then why not all the county? Why not a 1-cent tax or some other way to pay for the repairs? This is not a fair way to go about this thing. ...
One last point concerning people who don't live in the selected area: Look out you are next. And don't say they can't do that without notifying you first. They can and they already have ...
Donald McLeod, Grovetown

Originally created 08/01/03

Storm water utility not a real utility

By Letter to the Editor

Columbia County commissioners continue to put their heads in the sand. They still profess that the storm water utility is a real and viable entity. Any reasonable thinking person would conclude that there is, in fact, no "utility" and that the people assigned with titles to indicate they are utility employees are, in fact, employees of Columbia County Engineering Department.
Recently, I asked for specific information that dealt with the legal fees paid to defend the utility and specific account information relative to fees collected and bank accounts some of those fees are deposited in. The person in charge of the utility stated she could not answer those questions and referred them to the county engineer. The county engineer responded to the request with promptness and accuracy. These people are to be commended for the jobs they do for the residents of Columbia County.
Although the federal court has already ruled that the "fee" is a tax, the commission continues to pay lawyers to keep up the pretense. Over $51,000 has been paid to defend this lame duck. Billing hours continue to accrue. At the same time, out of the $3,142,811 collected as of June 30, $1,814,463 is in a bank account drawing 1.1 percent interest. If there were customer service needs, why hasn't this money been used to provide that much-needed service?
I also asked for a list of all my payments to the SWU. What I received was a list of monthly payments for each month that the SWU has been in existence. It did not show the payment that was for six months of advance payments. The list was generated by the water department as there is no customer account structure in the so-called SWU.
Last but not least, I did a statistical sample of so-called "customers." I used what is called stop-and-go sampling. I stopped with a sample of 10. Ten out of 10 stated they had never signed up for the service and had not received any service to date. Using this volume in stop-and-go sampling would indicate that there are no "real" customers of the utility and that, essentially, no one in the county has received any service from the SWU.
Bob Cipperly, Evans, Ga.

soapy_725

Apology to FSpears

He had nothing to do with the sale of the insurance office on Ronald Reagan Dr. We just had a lively debate (-:

fspears

Soapy thanks for the call

I spoke to Soapy yesterday evening. It was a very thoughtful call from a man who has some very strong feelings about the storm water fee. While we agree to disagree it was wonderful that he called me and we had great discussion on the topic. Been a while since I served in the government, but that is why I love this country.......everybody has a right to speak their minds without fear.

Riverman1

I'm not getting into the

I'm not getting into the politics, but like I said previously, it was a good thing we came up with this tax. Something has to be done to improve drainage and run-off in many places in the county. I criticized Frank Spears a good bit on this issue, but he may have been right.

fspears

Thank You Riverman1

Thank you so much for your very kind words... It really makes me feel good that you agree we needed to do something to solve the problem and that I just might have been right. While the fee is not perfect, it is a step in right direction...

I love reading your comments, you have a great set of writing skills that very few people have.

Frank

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