It is the time for new leadership in Columbia County. All aspects of federal government we complain about exist right here in our own county.
Contrary to Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross' claim, we have deficit spending in this county. During eight years under his "leadership," we increased our debt from $28 million to more than $110 million. The county taxpayers pay $6 million annually just to service the debt.
He made a decision to buy the Doctors Hospital property (behind Evans Kroger) for $4 million using "rainy day" funds. He subsequently pushed for a general bond in order to replenish the rainy day fund he spent. When Doctors Hospital refused to sell the property, he threatened to condemn the property using eminent domain.
He pushed for another $2 million bond referendum to develop what is now referred to as Evans Town Center Park. After taxing county citizens $10 million, what do we have? An empty lot! More importantly, what is the amount of unrealized property tax revenue as a result of government ownership of this property?
Cross does not work well with city governments within the county. His unwillingness to work with them incurs significant cost to taxpayers. For example, in December 2005, Ron Cross insisted that Harlem provide fire protection to unincorporated parts of Harlem on a pay-per-call system at $2,727 per call. The city of Harlem wanted a sum of $36,000 for fiscal year 2006 in order to better plan their annual budget.
Instead of paying a $36,000 to Harlem for full-service fire protection for the area, Cross made county citizens pay for a fire house ($635,836), fire truck ($224,354), fire truck equipment ($24,206), furniture, fixture, and equipment (approximately $8,430).
I was not able to get annual operating costs for the new fire station, which includes two full-time firefighters' salaries and benefit packages, utility costs for the fire house, and firefighting equipment.
We need a county chairman whose priority is in the best interest of Columbia County citizens and wise use of taxpayers' money. Elect Brett McGuire chairman of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.
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