In response to the Jan. 25 letter from Richard Hogue,"Voters must have opportunity to pronounce verdict on consolidation," it is amazing how simple facts can be so misconstrued.
In the discussion about Columbia County consolidation, there is not, and never was, any effort to limit growth in Grovetown. The only discussion was the growth after the available sewer capacity (roughly 450 homes) was exhausted. At that time some $2 million must be spent to improve sewer line capacity.
The plan that Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau approved was to allot $2 million of the capital improvement program, financed from franchise fees from incorporation/consolidation, to accomplish that project. Grovetown would then have sewer capacity for the next 20 years without any cost to the city.
I thought this was an excellent deal for the city, because Trudeau told me that sewer capacity was the No. 1 need in Grovetown. If we cannot receive the franchise fees, then the city must fund this sewer expansion since we cannot ask the county residents to fund improvements in the cities.
There have never been any threats on this matter at any time. It is simply a matter of economics. It seemed like a real good deal for Grovetown since they could meet their No. 1 need without any capital outlay. Grovetown pays the county for water and sewer, and we want to continue that revenue source and desire for them to grow and prosper.
Secondly, it is not possible to accomplish incorporation/consolidation without a public referendum. There is no desire by the commission to do this in any way except by referendum. This issue should be decided by the people. There is also no desire to see county government grow. We are continually looking for ways to reduce government and taxes. There are some capital projects that must be funded some way, and the franchise fees seem to be a desirable choice for the cities and the county.
The Columbia County Commission has no hidden agenda in the matter. We feel, very simply, that it is the best thing for the county presently and especially in the future. I, too, have a lot of respect for Dennis Trudeau; however, this is not the first time he has changed his mind after hearing from his Council. When questioned, he just smiles and says,"I am a Democrat, so I can change my mind."
We are eager to work with both mayors to accomplish what is best for the cities and the county together.
Chairman Ron Cross
Columbia County Commission
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