Looks like one of Columbia County's fellow Georgia communities studied the ever-popular stormwater utility - and blinked.
The Atlanta paper reported last week that city officials in Roswell, north of Atlanta, agreed to create a stormwater utility. But then they balked when it came time to impose the fees to pay for it, citing the current economic climate.
"Our residents and our businesses are really hurting right now," the paper quoted a city councilman saying. "Enough is enough at this moment."
It perhaps goes without saying - but won't, because to do so would mean I'd have to change the subject - that the idea of "enough is enough" sure seems to be getting a lot of "amens" from around here.
It's not just on the upcoming sales tax and bond referendums altogether, either, though there are plenty of detractors on both. But I've heard an awful lot of grumbling from taxpayers who wonder just how much, exactly, we're going to continue to be charged for fixing the county's drainage problems.
Taxpayers already are paying for basic stormwater services through the general fund. Most (but not all) are paying the stormwater utility fee. We're also paying back bonds that we approved for infrastructure improvements, and now we're being asked to renew the sales tax for six years, with $20 million (part of it for bond payment) earmarked for stormwater projects.
Stormwater improvements aren't exactly the sexiest projects a county takes on. Unless the back of your house is washing away because of creek-bank erosion, the average taxpayer probably doesn't give the issue much thought.
And stormwater improvements represent the sort of meat-and-potatoes projects that some folks see too little of in the $180 million sales tax proposal that includes such nonsense as a parking deck for bureaucrats at the county's government center.
But a few million here on stormwater and a few million there, and pretty soon we're talking real money. And as that Roswell city councilman said, some folks might be inclined to say, "enough is enough."
One fellow who apparently had enough of Columbia County is Todd Glover, the former head of the county's management services.
No, he didn't leave under bad circumstances. But clearly he's found the grass greener on the other side of the river: Glover now is the assistant county administrator in Aiken County.
Interestingly, back when Glover first was hired in Columbia County, it was pretty clear that he was supposed to be the assistant administrator. Somehow his job title continued to morph until he wasn't. And then the county advertised for an assistant administrator and hired former state patrolman Scott Johnson.
Glover did a great job while he was here, and always seemed to be finding some new and creative way to save taxpayers money. Our loss is Aiken County's gain.
James X. Camak
I was sad to hear the other day of the death of James X. Camak, a former member of Columbia County's Board of Education.
From his difficult birth to his death at age 76 last week to cancer, Camak certainly faced a lifetime of struggle. But that never seemed to stand in his way of serving other people, whether through his Christian education ministry or his 15 years on the school board.
Quiet, honest and unassuming, Camak wasn't a politician - which is to say he was a public servant whose caliber is far too rare.
May he rest in peace, his time here well done.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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