Keep your November vote simple: No trust, no SPLOST

Dennis Chase's picture

If you have money to invest, I think that all of you would demand that anyone you have managing those funds would have to be someone you trust totally. Within some level of reasonableness, that should apply for any government as well.

We have a basic expectation that elected officials will properly manage tax dollars entrusted to them. It is my opinion that we have made a mistake with this set of Fayette County commissioners. We should not vote to put any more tax money into their hands.

A year or so ago, when I first became involved with issues related to the West Fayetteville Bypass, I learned just how bad the situation was with our leadership. Now, other than a few of the county departments, I find very little to trust when it comes to the Fayette County government.

Following are a few of the reasons why I do not trust them with my tax money. Perhaps you will agree and vote a resounding NO to their request for more SPLOST dollars this November.

1. Fayette County has an ordinance that allows for what is known as a Conservation Subdivision. The zoning section specifically states that the resulting conservation area “... shall reserve the Conservation Area to conservation uses as defined herein in perpetuity.”

Several times I have seen statements by the commission wherein mitigation for damage from the West Fayetteville Bypass will come from one subdivision with property that has a conservation designation.

Evidently the word “perpetuity” doesn’t mean anything to our commissioners. Their intent is to take a legally protected greenspace for use as compensation for the losses incurred from the bypass, a form of double-dipping.

2. Fayette County has a standing policy of doing everything possible to protect our streams and wetlands. But then they plan the West Fayetteville Bypass through or over at least eight wetlands and streams.

If there were a clear need for the road, and no other alternative existed, then this might be the route to select, but no such need exists and there are alternatives nearby that have almost no impact on our natural resources.

3. Fayette County has a standing policy of protecting greenspace areas, to include a significant number of acres to protect these areas for future generations.

But the West Fayetteville Bypass and other phases of the bypass plans would blast through several potential greenspace areas that will be lost forever.

4. Fayette County also has a policy of enhancing multiple transportation modes, including pedestrian and bicycle lanes, especially as directed by Georgia Department of Transportation and the Atlanta Regional Commission.

But the Fayette County Commissioners expressly requested a variance from compliance with special bicycle lanes along the proposed bypass segments.

5. For months, county representatives stated, emphatically, that the purpose for the West Fayetteville Bypass to Ga. Highway 92 at Westbridge Road was based on an Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) traffic model. In response to my Open Records Act request, ARC said “no such model exists.”

6. The new SPLOST request is being “sold” to us as a huge savings of tax dollars since, according to them, paying off the Justice Center will save $21 million in interest.

I highly recommend that you revisit some of the past editorials in this newspaper by Mr. Claude Y. Paquin who makes a very strong case that such logic is nonsense. Re-read what he has to say or ask your own financial expert and they will tell you (or should tell you) that saving future dollars in this fashion is smoke and mirrors as those dollars represent very different levels of value.

In addition, pre-payment by us now means that future citizens pay nothing for this resource; we pay for what they use. Good deal for future generations, not so good for us.

7. We recently learned that not all of the commissioners were aware of the project list for the planned SPLOST prior to voting on that list.

I, for one, would expect that commissioners would be smart enough to vote on such an important issue only when they have a clear understanding of what the vote is about.

8. When the Hood Road bridge was questioned at a recent meeting, the discussion quickly demonstrated that money raised in a SPLOST tax can be allocated to whichever project they think is highest priority.

In this instance, they could move it away from the Hood Road bridge to other “higher priority” projects. Sounds OK until you consider that the supposed interest savings project they included in the SPLOST list was to get your vote (see point 6 above) and they could simply conclude that this is a low priority and transfer the money to build other phases of the bypass.

9. County staff stated that no properties would be acquired until all appropriate permits were in place. But many properties have been acquired, with no permits issued, and more properties are being negotiated.

10. The county is proceeding as though the federal permits that will be required are a sure thing. They also appear to believe that some federal statues do not apply since they have set up some phases of the bypass with SPLOST-only money.

Evidently their belief is that they can get around the laws by avoiding outside funds. This point will be addressed in the legal challenge I am leading against the county, but their actions demonstrates an attempt to avoid compliance with some of our environmental laws.

In my opinion, any one of these 10 examples are enough to say, “We do not trust you!”

In my opinion, we should give them a resounding NO SPLOST vote in November.

I suspect that if each of you give this some thought, you could add to my list. Perhaps the result would be the Fayette County top 100 reasons for saying “No trust equals no SPLOST.”

Equally important is that if any of these current commissioners decide to run for office, our choice should be for whomever runs against them. A sad commentary on how we select our next commissioners, but they leave no other options.

[Dennis Chase, now retired, was a fish and wildlife biologist with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 26 years. Since retiring, he has worked as a consultant for Fayette County on environmental concerns, is a volunteer with the Line Creek Association of Fayette County, and has published numerous newspaper columns.]

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Shelby Barker's picture
Submitted by Shelby Barker on Mon, 09/28/2009 - 3:40pm.

These points illustrate why citizens should be hesitant of the SPLOST. I believe that the SPLOST proposal is a perfect example of what is wrong with government in general. Our politicians should not continue to examine ways to generate more money into the government's bank account, but rather figure out ways to cut back on spending. As the author demonstrates, a 1% increase may not seem like a lot but when you mix in the likely hood of a state and federal tax increase with the poor economic situation, something like the SPLOST is obviously not the answer.

Shelby Barker
Candidate for City Council Post1

grassroots's picture
Submitted by grassroots on Mon, 09/28/2009 - 12:27pm.

SPLOST is ECO unfriendly. Ecologically and Economically. Not one mention of enhancing our environment with SPLOST money. Can you imagine spending millions of dollars improving the Flint River? A wildlife game reserve? A public golf course for the family or other ideas that the public actually introduced? Instead we've spent millions of dollars on 5 different consulting firms, call it Fayette Forward, and watch it ultimately annex our county into Atlanta until you won't be able to know our unique quality of life ever existed. MARTA anyone? SPLOST proposes paving paradise and putting in a useless Parkway to nowhere. Remember TDK? Also, ARC, Atlanta Regional Commission, the only independent study of this project says it's unwarranted and too costly. The state of Georgia Legislature is already planning on slipping through an additional sales tax for their DOT. Are you ready for a 10% total sales tax? Adding another local SPLOST, a sales TAX, is unfriendly to business economics, our pocket books and our environment. What does that say about our commissioners? VOTE NO ON SPLOST.

Buck's picture
Submitted by Buck on Sat, 09/26/2009 - 1:01pm.

turning the page...

Submitted by Okie on Sat, 09/26/2009 - 10:06am.

Thank you Mr. Chase for all your hard work on this issue. There will be "2 NO votes" in our household for the SPLOST.

Submitted by PTCGOIL on Fri, 09/25/2009 - 10:23pm.

Your point #7 that not all Commissioners were aware of the project lists for this SPLOST.

I don believe Mr. Horgan had to meet with his drug dealer that week and later couldn't read the list due to the smoke in his eyes. Am I the only one who remembers him stating this? He said HE doesn't even remember stating this, but, well, we know why now, don't we Mr. Horgan???

mrs fran sheldon's picture
Submitted by mrs fran sheldon on Fri, 09/25/2009 - 9:38pm.

Mr. Chase, you have always impressed me as a good, kindhearted volunteer and I will take your advice to heart. Best wishes to you and your family.


Mrs. Fran Sheldon


Submitted by ginga1414 on Fri, 09/25/2009 - 9:06pm.

Thank you very much for all your hard work and insight. I wish your letter could appear on the front pages of every newspaper. I wish we could post it on every telephone pole and stop sign in Fayette County. I wish we could hand each and every voter a copy of your letter before they go into the voting booth this coming November. Our County Commissioners have demonstrated a complete lack of respect for established homeowners in our county. They have belittled us and insulted our intelligence. They don't deserve our trust.

Steve Brown's picture
Submitted by Steve Brown on Thu, 09/24/2009 - 9:40pm.

At this point, there is absolutely no justification for the West Fayetteville Bypass. Pure and simple, it is a developer freebie on our dime.

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