Waste in F’ville government just keeps on keeping on

Tue, 07/01/2008 - 3:56pm
By: Letters to the ...

To the Fayetteville City Council: I am writing you collectively to address a concern I have had and expressed to you personally at the City Council meeting of March 20, 2008. I related my story of walking from the Autumn Glenn area west on Ga. Highway 54, observing a lone city works employee edging the 12-inch strip of grass running along the sidewalk on the south side in the area of Azalea Estates. He was heading westbound.

As I walked past Pies on Pizza, I observed a city works crew truck parked in the triangular grass section on the west side of the restaurant. The engine was running and orange lights flashing, but no one was around.

I continued walking to Dunkin’ Donuts, had a cup of coffee, read the paper and started walking back home. As I passed Pies on Pizza, the city worker was now edging the 12-inch strip of grass along the north side of Hwy. 54 heading west.

The crew cab diesel was still running with the lights flashing, and no one was in it. This was about an hour later.

It was clear that this huge vehicle was being used by this lone city worker, which of course just did not make sense. A four cylinder Ranger would have served his job description that day just fine.

The fact is, the engine should not have been left running, four-cylinder gas or eight-cylinder diesel.

I understood [Mayor Ken] Steele tell our city manager, Joe Morton, to write a memo to employees to shut off vehicles when not being used.

Since we had just been advised that city revenues were falling off and costs were going up, I made the comment that if we watch our pennies, the dollars would take care of themselves. Well, the additional cost of fuel is not just pennies anymore.

Since that time I have asked a city employee to please shut off his F-150 while out of it talking to some one he knew in the parking lot in front of Krystal’s as I was again walking by.

Wednesday at 2:40 p.m., I entered City Hall to pay my water bill. I observed a very large city dump truck under a tree in the parking lot, five city employees towards the rear of the truck, one with a extended chain saw trimming branches from a tree, the other four watching and picking up a branch as it fell and tossing it in the back of the dump truck.

It was almost full, so I assume they had been there a while. This huge truck with its very noisy and high-fuel-consumption diesel engine was running with the windows rolled up and no one in the cab.

I came out of City Hall at 2:50 p.m. and nothing had changed: same folks towards the rear of the truck and it still running.

Here I was, riding in my 1994 F-150 with the windows down on an 85-degree afternoon to save gas, and my tax dollars were paying to air condition an empty truck.

I always carry my digital camera, so I took a picture and proceeded to ask one of the young city employees to do me a favor. He said, “Sure, what can I do for you?”

I asked him to please shut off the truck as diesel fuel was running around $4.80 per gallon. You would have thought I was a Martian.

He did shut off the truck.

Then I went to Georgia Power to pay my power bill and related to the nice lady there my story. She was in shock. She advised me that Georgia Power had put out a red alert advisory to ALL employees weeks ago to shut off engines when vehicles were not in use, not only for fuel savings, but more important, for air pollution concerns since the state advised we are in a red alert. That did not cross my mind as yet another reason we should all be aware of how we contribute to our area’s pollution problems.

In private industry, companies are making every effort to cut costs and pollution. Of course they have a bottom line to meet and just can’t raise prices to cover increasing costs, unlike government agencies, which can raise taxes to cover shortfalls.

Gentleman, if a directive was put out to employees in private industry, and it was not followed, there would be at the very least some sort of counseling involved with the employee that did not obey this directive. What does the city do in these type of circumstances?

I will also ask if, indeed, has such a directive been put out to our very fine Fayetteville employees like private industry has done?

Fayette County, Fayetteville, Peachtree City and Tyrone are all experiencing shortfalls in revenue because the economy is slowing down from its heydays. We all must adjust to these changing times.

Thousands of Fayette County taxpayers have taken pay cuts, benefit reductions, and lost their jobs associated with the airline industry and construction industry in the last several years. Many have also lost their retirements. They are also seeing their tax bills going up on their property whose value is either stagnant or going down.

It looks like we taxpayers in Fayette County are going to see even more tax increases in the future because of all the above reasons, and many more reasons I will not address in this letter.

Times are changing and we must change to survive.

Raising taxes on folks with fixed incomes, folks that have seen their quality of life reduced because of pay and benefit cuts, is not the way to go. There is a bottom of the money tax barrel, and I think we have seen it.

Vic Remeneski

Fayetteville, Ga.

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