Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Dunn says Brown misleads on SPLOST
By JOHN THOMPSON
An internal memo from Peachtree City Mayor Steve Brown has Fayette County Commission Chairman Greg Dunn fuming.
Its just nonsense, and Im tired of the lies, Dunn said.
Brown leaked the memo to the press last week, which continued his assault on the Fayette County Commission and the transportation SPLOST that voters will decide in November.
In a lengthy interview Monday morning, Dunn rebutted Browns assertions and continued to wonder why Brown is so dead-set against the transportation sales tax that will bring tens of millions of dollars to Browns community, along with an ease to traffic congestion.
In his memo, Brown said last weeks effort at a compromise by the county commission proved that they were taking too much money away from the cities.
Thats simply not true. Were trying to compromise, and theres no compromising with him. Hes being so disingenuous Dunn said.
Dunn offered to split the SPLOST to 65 percent for the countys transportation plan and 35 percent to the cities. When the county passed the SPLOST resolution last month, 70 percent went to the countys transportation plan and 30 percent to the cities. The reason for the effort, Dunn asserted, is that recent economic projections showing the economy picking up steam.
With the economy on the rebound, Dunn said the county is able to shift more money to the municipalities and still pay for all the countys transportation needs.
Speaking candidly, Dunn also said there was another reason the commission approved the sales tax referendum in June.
We didnt want to have Steve Brown in control of this. All the other municipalities agreed with our numbers, he said.
If the county had waited until July 1, the county would have been required to split the funds according to population. Dunn maintains the SPLOST benefits everyone in the county, which is something Brown refuses to acknowledge.
He also asserts the mayor is wrong when he said Peachtree City will contribute 50 percent of the additional sales tax revenues.
You cant tell me The Avenue is going to produce more revenue than the Fayette Pavilion, he said. The Fayetteville-based Pavilion, with its many large retailers, is several times the size of the Peachtree City shopping center, which has smaller specialty shops similar to mall stores.
The chairman also feels the mayor is misleading the public on the SPLOST.
He says were getting $85 million of the $131 million. But that total pays for projects throughout the county. Were doing a traffic plan for the whole county, not just us, he said.
If the county was just trying to solve traffic jams in the unincorporated county, there probably wouldnt be a need for a sales tax hike.
The biggest project is the East Fayetteville Bypass, which gives people a better option of avoiding traffic problems in the city, he said.
Dunn also dismisses the notion that Peachtree City is not getting its fair share of projects.
The chairman provided a copy of the 2005-2010 transportation program approved by the DOT and the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The plan shows Fayette County receiving $59 million in state and federal transportation dollars. But in order to receive the money, the local governments have to pony up $36 million, which is what the SPLOST would fund.
Weve never gotten our fair share of funds before and if we have the money in hand through the SPLOST, these projects will get built.
Included on the list are several Peachtree City projects that require local dollars, including:
Huddleston Road for $56,000.
Peachtree Parkway and Crosstown Road. The $270,000 project requires $54,000 local dollars.
The grade separation at Ga. Highway 54 and 74. The nearly $7 million project requires more than $3 million in local funds. (See related story.)
Multi-use paths on Ga. Highway 74. The $250,000 project requires $50,000 in local funds.
If the SPLOST is passed, all of the local funds required for the projects would come out of the countys $85 million portion of the proceeds, not Peachtree Citys $15 million, Dunn said.
When you add it all up, Peachtree City is going to get nearly $20 million in projects and thats just over the first six years, he said.
Without the SPLOST, Dunn doesnt see how cash-strapped Peachtree City would pay for the projects. He also disputes any rumors that if the issue fails in November, the county would call for another election next year.
Thats just not true, This is our one shot, he said.
The commission chairman said he is growing increasingly agitated with Brown and said that hes not the only elected official who has trouble dealing with him.
(Fayetteville Mayor) Ken Steele tried to convince him, but he gave up. Why is [Brown] the only elected official fighting this issue? Dunn asked.
Copyright 2004-Fayette Publishing, Inc.