On Jan. 10, Columbia County commissioners held a consolidation dog and pony show that I attended. There were about 70 others who listened to a presentation that was long on rhetoric and short on facts.
There were two major issues: Lack of tax revenues and the need for more services. We all know Columbia County is growing and the demand for public services is growing proportionately: Simple economics. Given this, county commissioners must either restrain growth or raise taxes; again, simple economics.
Taxes, historically, has been a problem for Americans. We fought a civil war with England for this reason, and we still fight over who is to be taxed and how. There is no tax scheme that is completely fair and equitable. All we can hope for is a method of taxation that is bearable by the majority of citizens.
Some of the audience on Jan. 10 were accepting of the tax increase if it improved their pet project: water, sewer, roads, etc. But most everyone agrees that the major demand is coming from the Evans/Martinez complex and little will go to the rural areas with similar unmet needs.
We were informed that the power structure would not change. True, unlike Augusta, we will not be consolidating two governments and trying to figure out who would be fired or replaced. What was not stated is that the Columbia County government will, by necessity, expand.
Nothing was said about the egos of those driving the county toward consolidation. There is a big concern to place Evans/Martinez area on the map. ... Much has been said about this issue and I need not belabor the point except to point out that it is an ego problem and not economic - the issue is pure speculation.
I am not in favor of consolidation. As a holder of a B.B.A., I am not overly impressed by charts, summary statistics and pretty pictures. Part of my studies was concerned with "How to Lie with Statistics." The county administrator invited me to inspect the figures and draw my own conclusions, but I would rather have news reporters perform this task and report it to the public. My bias against consolidation would make my thoughts suspect.
I am not in favor of consolidation because of the limiting effect it will have on Grovetown and Harlem. One only has to look at what has happened in the Atlanta and Augusta area. Local towns may still exist but have basically lost their unique identification.
I am not in favor of consolidation because of the way Chairman Ron Cross threatened Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau. I know Trudeau has deep integrity but I do not know this about Cross. What Cross said may be true: If Grovetown does not join the Evans/Martinez crowd in consolidation, then the county will not support growth in the Grovetown area. If so, that makes the commissioners and chairman a bunch of bullies and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
... I would hope and pray that the voters get the right to vote on the type of government we desire. To do otherwise is a mark of tyranny.
Richard Hogue, Grovetown
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