Tom Werner (letter, Nov. 13, "'Monopoly' government like Grovetown's might work in the county, too'), should have paid attention when my letter (Nov. 2, "Commissioners bow to developers, can't be trusted with consolidation") was read to him. Six separate times ... I stated my objection to consolidation was the present county governance. ...
Werner asks why I am not advocating the imposition of impact fees in Grovetown. There are several reasons: we're not building homes in retention ponds, creek beds or lake bottoms, so we don't have to have our own "rain tax" to bail out homeowners burned by developers. It is evident Werner doesn't understand Grovetown is in Columbia County (has been for years, you know) and impact fees would be collected here as well as in the rest of the county. I'm also not certain Werner knows this, but Grovetown doesn't have its own school system or highway department.
I confess to having the "crazy" idea that we should collect fees to offset when the commission rubber-stamps approval to build high density housing in school districts which are overcrowded and unable to expand, and on roads whose traffic-bearing capability have already been exceeded. The county needs money to accommodate the impact of the added burden. That's why they're called impact fees, so the new residents pay a more proportionate share of the costs and its not wholly borne by the older residents as it is now.
I may be insane, but School Superintendent Tommy Price has for every year in memory underestimated the expected new enrollments; despite a spate of new schools there is a growing trailer park of portables on almost every campus. And where does Werner think money for new schools we must have will come from?
In objection, Werner has had what for him must be a revelation: developers don't pay taxes; they merely pass them on. Duh. Developers don't want them because they don't get to keep the money, and it raises the price of housing. So? There are two populations moving into the county, both driven by Augusta: there are those fleeing it, and those moving here and choosing our schools and community over it. They make a choice; it's no different in any city; in Atlanta, if you want to live in Alpharetta it's going to cost more than living in Doraville. If newcomers aren't willing to pay, there's a whole lot of real estate available " in Augusta.
Again with the Doctor's Hospital Field. If the Commission had condemned it as they had originally planned to expand their Reichstag, they would have been going up against pockets as deep as their own. At the end of the day, after it crawled through the courts for a decade or two, one of two things would have happened: the county would have won, but by that time the fair market value would have been double or even triple; or they would have lost and the value would still be doubled.
Instead, Doctor's Hospital acted as a good corporate citizen; a concept alien to Cross and cronies, and apparently, Werner. As for seeking public input, an example of this is when, upon reading the majority of surveys were against dividing up the land, Cross immediately went on television and told us he was going to wait until he had the money - and then divide it up.
I will be delighted to be proven wrong in my assessment of where the county is headed. I suspect, however, I will be shown to have been correct; and that will sadden me even more.
Dave Stewart Sr.
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