I thought I had done my homework in considering the concept of incorporation/consolidation. I went to the meeting at the government center regarding the consolidation. I asked questions and listened to others ask similar pertinent questions about the benefits and drawbacks of consolidation. After all the information was reviewed and digested, I thought that I would be comfortable with the consolidation process.
That was until I read the Endless Opportunities flyer that was delivered with the Columbia County Water and Sewerage bill and when I read the News-Times editorial pages. One of the questions I, and others asked, was whether or not the "franchise fees" would be added to our utilities bills. In every case the response was a resounding no. Bullet item 3 in the flyer states, "It must be noted that natural gas and telephone customers would probably see a 3 percent increase in their bills as the utilities 'pass through' this franchise fee." Obviously the revenues from "the fees" would not be coming from the utilities but, would in fact come from the Columbia County residents. This was my original fear. This is just another form of taxation.
I agree with the Oct. 2 letter from Barbara Driggers. Some of the "benefits" that are touted are nebulous at best and, most, insult the readers intelligence. The only real benefit that seemed to be evident was the revenue that would be received from the utility companies via the "franchise fees." This "benefit" seems to have vaporized into thin air. Will all the others do likewise?
The News-Times also had an editorial about the commissioners wanting to provide county land, paid for by the taxpayers, to a private concern that would only benefit the paying members of that concern. One has to ask the question: Is Columbia County already taking on Richmond County characteristics?
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