REPUBLICAN PARTY BALLOT QUESTIONS:
1. Should Columbia County continue to encourage retail development, which would increase sales tax revenue for the county, potentially offsetting personal property tax increases?
Increased retail development can ease Columbia County's proportionally heavy reliance on property taxes on homeowners (misidentified in the question as "personal property tax")
2. Would you be in favor of legislation that would abolish property taxes and replace it with a statewide sales tax that would be used to fund education?
State lawmakers debated this issue this year. The idea still deserves study, but its one-size-fits-all funding process could have a devastating affect on some school systems in the state.
3. Would you be in favor of legislation that would abolish the current state income tax code and replace it with a statewide sales tax?
While sales taxes help capture dollars from visitors to the state, for a border community such as ours, such a radical policy change would drive big-ticket businesses across the state line.
4. Are you in favor of the bond referendum being proposed by the Columbia County Board of Commissioners?
Perhaps the most important question on the ballot, because an actual, binding bond vote is expected to be part of the November General Election. The outcome of this referendum will let commissioners know whether the idea is a hard sell. Currently, it is.
5. Should the county, excluding the cities of Harlem and Grovetown, become an incorporated/consolidated government entity?
Commissioners wanted the local legislative delegation to put this issue on a binding local referendum. They didn't, so this question, like Question 4, will provide much-needed guidance.
6. Do you feel that the county and state are doing an adequate job to handle current traffic issues and effectively preparing the county for the future traffic requirements?
While "feelings" have little to do with such matters, there is little doubt that the top local complaint is about traffic.
7. In addressing the current immigration issues, should the proposed solution include an amnesty or guest worker provision?
One of the more meaningless, take-a-pulse questions on what should be a poll of local concerns.
8. Do you believe the implementation of a school voucher program would bring about improvements in education?
Why not a law enforcement voucher program to allow citizens to hire their own personal deputy? Or fire-service vouchers so homeowners can pick from a menu of fire departments? Public services - like public safety and public schools - are best funded and operated collectively, or not at all.
9. Would you be in favor of abolishing the current storm water fee system and replacing it with an additional one cent sales tax with the condition that the tax would be abolished once the current storm water deficiencies have been corrected?
Someone apparently decided the sales tax is a fat cash cow, but all these sales taxes ideas would slaughter retail sales. And as annoying as the stormwater utility fee is, at least it's paid by those in the area most impacted by runoff issues and not spread to everyone.
10. Would you be in favor of the cities of Harlem and Grovetown consolidating with Columbia County to form one consolidated government?
County Commissioner Steve Brown has been the area's most vocal proponent of consolidation. The county's proposal left out the two cities; if Brown had his way, he'd abolish the two cities and combine them with the county. From a strictly technical streamlining standpoint, it's a great idea. As a proposal for government by the people, it's a loser.
11. Do you believe the next high school built in Columbia County should be geared toward vocational and technical education?
This question has the fingerprints of former GOP chairman, former school board member, current candidate for school board chairman and current mechanical contractor Lee Muns all over it. Board members decided the next school will be another general high school, giving up significant benefits that a tech school could share with the county's long-awaited Augusta Tech campus.
12. Do you feel that the federal government should intervene in the business operations of publicly traded companies when they are showing large profits?
For "publicly traded companies," think "oil producers." The question is meaningless locally.
13. Do you believe that one day a sports/civic arena should be located in Columbia County?
"One day"? When? Next year? In a hundred years? No, the county shouldn't build an arena right now. But "one day"? Sure!
14. Should the Columbia County Board of Commissioners require all future residential developments (to) include sidewalks in the development?
Splendid idea! Make 'em build playgrounds, too.
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