On May 10, News-Times publisher Barry Paschal wrote that "Consolidation is very unpopular here." In one way he is correct, but in the important way, he is dead wrong. The important part of the consolidation issue is: Who are our present county commissioners listening to?
For those who have not bothered to consider the question, let me explain. The commissioners have expenses, among them cost when they run for re-election. Now guess where they get their money to continue their "almost forever" terms in office? Who profits highly from this wild, uncontrolled growth? Developers, real estate sales people, construction contractors and probably others.
Now, who is our present county commission listening to? Not you, that's for sure. When you consider our present County Commission, remember, follow the money!
Then there is the issue of taxes. On March 7, The Augusta Chronicle said "Columbia County property owners could be looking at a 1-mill increase to fund a variety of infrastructure projects if a bond referendum is successfully presented to the voters later this year."
Commission Chairman Ron Cross, in his November 2005 propaganda publication to the county says, "However, accelerating some transportation and storm water projects with the franchise fees would benefit the entire county." It seems he would have you believe those being subjected to this "fee" will not pass it on to you as a service increase. If you believe Cross on this, you probably will believe him if he tries to sell you on buying the Brooklyn Bridge.
Much has been written recently by indignant taxpayers about impact fees, but Cross along with the other commissioners has studied this issue thoroughly. Each county commissioner has appointed one state-required (ha-ha) developer and one non-developer to "study" the issue.
Since all (every single one) of the commissioners are on record favoring incorporation-consolidation, even you can guess how the study group decided. For "some" reason they oppose impact fees. Of course, if indignant taxpayers finally force them to put some sort of impact fee in operation, look carefully at the size of that fee. It will be sized to please developers, real estate sales people and construction contractors, not to give taxpayers relief.
Where does our commission desire to take us? Look at the evidence. They aim for us in every way except name to rapidly become Richmond County No. 2. Were you suspicious when they took our county out of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau? You should have been. To achieve the goal of Columbia as Richmond Co. II, they must pull in anything they can in industry, then tell us it increases the tax base for our benefit. If you drive Washington Road and most other major roads, you need no better evidence that is happening to us. Growth? Yes! By all means, but not this explosive, wild, uncontrolled growth we now are enduring. ...
Any of the present commissioners not swept out of office as soon as possible are going to continue to make our area less and less desirable. Please, work hard to get the ins out, unless you like the direction our county is going. Any commission candidate you vote for should be on record in favor of slowing growth to an acceptable pace and making sure growth pays for growth! ...
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