Sure, the 12 questions on Columbia County's Republican ballot were non-binding.
But that doesn't mean Columbia County Commissioners haven't heard the voters.
"If we are the right kind of public servants, if we don;t see that kind of information and that many people voting on a subject and look at it and say 'This is something we need to study," County Commission Chairman Jim Whitehead said. "If we didn't, then we're not doing our job. In fact, we've already talked about some of them."
The 12 questions touched on local and statewide issues. One asked about a Confederate monument on the grounds of the county's judicial center. Another asked voters preference for electing the county's school board chairman. Another asked if voters should be allowed to choose the state flag.
"We wanted to find out what is important to the folks of Columbia County," said Republican Party Chairman Alvin Starks.
Another asked if Columbia County should create a separate Chamber of Commerce. The response was overwhelmingly yes - more than 82 percent of the 11,245 people voting on the issue support the move.
"There's a resounding 'yes,"' said Starks. "There's no gray area. We don't want anything to do with the Augusta metro chamber."
Officials will consider it, but the move may be cost-prohibitive right now, said Whitehead.
"I'm not saying we couldn't do it as good," he said. "I'm not saying somewhere down the road that it's not feasible, but I'm saying right now that as tight as the budgets are to come up with approximately half a million to do this, I'm not in favor of doing it right now."
Whitehead said he wished the questions could have been on the Democrats' ballot also. Starks would have liked that too, but thought the Republican ballot was sufficient.
"That's all that counts, when you consider nearly every elected official in this county is under the Republican banner," he said.
Republican Ballot Questions
QUESTION 1: Yes or No: Are you in favor of having the chairman of the Columbia County Board of Education elected by a county-wide vote? Yes: 9,603 - 85.38% No: 1,645 - 14.62%
QUESTION 2: Yes or No: Columbia County taxpayers currently give $150,000 per year to the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. Are you in favor of Columbia County developing its own separate Chamber of Commerce? Yes: 9,247 - 82.23% No: 1,998 - 17.77%
QUESTION 3: Yes or No: Fire Services in the unincorporated areas of Columbia County are provided by private fire departments. Do you favor a system in which these services remain private, but their fees become tax-deductible by being collected through the county government? Yes: 7,990 - 71.89% No: 3,124 - 28.11%
QUESTION 4: Yes or No: Columbia County's stormwater utility fee - sometimes called the "rain tax" - is collected only on property owners in the densely populated eastern end of the county. Should this tax/fee be enforced countywide and paid from tax revenue, thus becoming tax deductible? Yes: 8,071 - 72.31% No: 3,091 - 27.69%
QUESTION 5: Yes or No: Should Georgia voters be allowed to decide the design of the state's flag? Yes: 10,077 - 89.1% No: 1,233 - 10.9%
QUESTION 6: Yes or No: Should Columbia County pursue the consolidation of the governments of Harlem, Grovetown and the unincorporated areas of the county into a single governing body? Yes: 4,711 - 42.93% No: 6,263 - 57.07%
QUESTION 7: Yes or No: Should Confederate heritage groups be allowed to erect on the grounds of the new Columbia County Justice Center a marker honoring Columbia County citizens who served in the War Between the States (the American Civil War)? Yes: 8,817 - 79.47% No: 2,278 - 20.53%
QUESTION 8: Yes or No: Should the Columbia County Commission impose a moratorium on rezoning of residential property for commercial use? Yes: 6,354 - 58.9% No: 4,433 - 41.1%
QUESTION 9: Yes or No: Should Columbia County further restrict the location of mobile homes within the county? Yes: 8,470 - 75.35% No: 2,771 - 24.65%
QUESTION 10: Yes or No: Should Columbia County commissioners reject any and all attempts top open pornographic "adult" bookstores or video stores in Columbia County? Yes: 9,654 - 84.98% No: 1,706 - 15.02%
QUESTION 11: Yes or No: Do you favor an ordinance that would offer additional protection for Columbia County's trees, and restrict developers from clear-cutting property for new construction? Yes: 9,057 - 80.56% No: 2,185 - 19.44%
QUESTION 12: Yes or No: Should the resolve of traffic and safety issues created by the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Washington Road take priority over all other existing county traffic/safety issues? Yes: 2,447 - 21.88% No: 8,738 - 78.12%
Staff Writer Vicky Eckenrode contributed to this article.
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