If every person who really cares about Columbia Countys stormwater utility fee were to lie down, end to end, it would barely provide enough bodies for a West Lake speed bump.
One of those people is David Naus. Understand-ably, the Martinez homeowner probably feels a little run down these days.
Naus, a longtime opponent of the fee, was one of the first people attempting to apply for credits against the runoff fee because of the pond behind his home. His public complaints about the overly complicated pond credit program helped prod the county into simplifying the process.
Naus has since received a discount for his pond - a pond which collects runoff from, among other things, the impervious surface of the hulking, 5-million-gallon county water tank towering over his house.
These days Naus is collecting something else from the county: Lots of questions.
Ever since a group of Columbia County residents filed suit against the stormwater utility, the legal wrangling has taken a quiet trip into federal court, where Judge Dudley Bowen now holds jurisdiction.
Naus is not a party to the suit - though he certainly applauds challenges to the fee - but the legal wheels have run over him anyway, as attorneys for both sides have subpoenaed him for questioning.
Puzzled beforehand about the purpose of the grilling, Naus was convinced afterward that it was a fishing expedition. The only conclusion which I have drawn from this is that the countys attorneys were out to find out if they had another possible suit in the making, Naus says. And to hassle me in the process.
Schools will pay
Speaking of hassles, school officials finally seem closer to reaching an agreement on paying their share of the stormwater utility fee.
The school system owes nearly $65,000, having avoided making any payments since the fee began well over a year ago. But just as Naus and other pond-owners get a discount, so will the schools fees be reduced because of credits for conservation education programs.
The county receives certain benefits when the schools teach water conservation measures in their curriculum, explains County Attorney Doug Batchelor. There still are ongoing discussions about the school system being reimbursed by the county for the cost of using school recreation facilities after hours.
And for better or worse, everyone will benefit when the whole issue of the stormwater utility fee is cleared up by the courts.
The 2002 political season begins in earnest with a cornpone collision this weekend.
Former legislative colleagues Georgia state Rep. Bill Jackson, R-Appling, and ex-state Rep. Robin Williams, R-Augusta, have each sent out similarly worded invitations to old-fashioned barbecues taking place at almost the same time Saturday.
Theoretically, the quick political junkie could pig out at Williams 1 p.m. barbecue at his Johnston, S.C., farm, and then hustle over to Jacksons Appling home for his 3 p.m. hoe-down.
Williams, a Georgia resident who is running for Augusta mayor, is featuring South Carolina political dignitaries at his event, along with free food and a live band. Jackson, who is retiring this year, is focusing on Georgia gubernatorial candidate Sonny Purdue at his barbecue and stump meeting, which includes pickin and singin in addition to food.
The hilarious movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou has a pretty good depiction of Depression-era campaigning in the deep South. Saturdays shindigs will likely prove the flesh-pressing process hasnt changed.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barrypaschal@ yahoo.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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