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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
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March 6, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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March 6, 2019
 

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March 6, 2019 Page 5A iR epOrter ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN by Don Daniel a GomerPyle expression "surprise, surprise, surprise" is appropriate to start off this column. As has been reported, Georgia Power, a.k.a. Plant Scherer, just paid their tax bill and the goose that laid the golden egg in the amount of $3 million plus. The ink probably did not dry on the check before our county commissioners and county manager went on a spending spree. We taxpayers are now leasing, not purchasing, 31 new vehicles with a taxpayer check in the amount---get ready---S808,840. That takes a pretty good chunk out of the check from Georgia Power. Just to remind you, as reported a couple of weeks ago, $224,428 went to purchase two tractors with batwing cutters. And to top that off, the commissioners gave themselves a 46 percent raise and purchased a truck for towing, $62,980 and rewarding the county manager with a raise and a vehicle. I assume he got a county gas credit card or asks for gas reimbursement on his expense account traveling over the county. Obviously in an attempt to keep the county coffer from draining below empty, if you owe a past-due water bill, get ready for a collection agency to be calling. According to a report by the county manager, "there is $254,700 in accounts receivables relating to water of which $148,000 or 58 percent are associated with inactive accounts. Utility Partners (who we pay to bill and collect water bills) recommends turning over these inactive and delinquent paid $285 for each of the three DDA members. Add that figure to expense reports and just over $10,000 taxpayer money went to the city of Atlanta. WHAT IS the top motel in Forsyth? According to the 2018 Monthly Hotel/Motel Tax Pay- ment Report for December, the No. I motel was Holiday Inn Express, collecting $7,580.23 in taxes. Coming in at No. 2 is LaQuinta Inn and Suites with $6,223.64 and Hampton Inn third with $5,142.34. Rounding out the top five were Days Inn, $4,908.98 and Red Roof Inn, $3,213.70. The 14 hotels in Forsyth col- lected a total of $40,850.64. Of that total, Forsyth received 60 percent or $24,519.30 with the local conven- tion and visitors bureau getting $16,340.26 to pro- mote the city as a tourist attraction. ACCORDING TO our former sheriff and now U.S. Marshal, the Latin phrase over the main entrance at the Justice center, "fiat justitia caelum", translates into "Justice be done though the heaven fall". Phyllis Hanes, Barbara Geek, Nancy Calhoun, Dena Wheeler, and Sandi Wil- liams all came up with the right answer, but Susan Parker was the first. Susan not only gets the goodie certificate but also the $25 cash. Sticking with Latin, translate the phrase "E pluribus unum". First correct answer after 12 noon on Thursday gets the certificate for Whistle Stop fried greeia tomato appetizers, dessert at The Sweet Tea in Boling- broke, dozen Dunkin Donuts, Dairy Queen Blizzard, slice of accounts to a collection agency", pizza at lon 's, slice of Shoney's In last week's column I reported our county attorney's opinion on the Open Records Request needed to get access to the check register where our finance director Lorri Robin- son has paid the bills--written the checks. Well, the county attorney politely replied that the county "is in the process of developing a web page" that would give everyone access to how the county pays bills. Well, lo and behold, you/ we can now access the check register by going on the county website, going tothe finance department page, dick on min- ute tab and, voila!, there is the check register with a compre- hensive look at who we pay but in some instances not what we are paying for. AGAIN, HAVING to file an open records request with For- syth's city manager, I received the expense reports for the mayor, all council members, city manager and three mem- bers of the Forsyth Downtown DevelopmentAuthority at- tending the Georgia Municipal Authority's Mayor's Day Con- ference in Atlanta at the Down- town Hilton and smooshing with our legislative delegation and getting their picture taken with them and the governor. Well, Council member John Howard had the biggest ex- penses: Councilman Howard's room was $446.36, compared to others $304, parking $20, meals $95.25 and mileage to and from Forsyth, $71.92 as was all the others for a total of $633.53. Understand he did reimburse the city $147. Total Forsyth taxpayer funds spent on the three-day bed, parking, meals and mileage came to $5,054.66 which does not include the cost of the train- ing sessions which was $4,800 for eight inducting the mayor, council and staffpayable to the Georgia Municipal Association for "training" GMA also got Strawberry pie, Forsyth Main Street t-shirt, and sandwich, chip and drink at The Pickled Okra. OBVIOUSLY THE local log- gers who got caught mudding were intentionally attempting to skirt the law when they did not obey what they should have known. I just don't understand. I HEARD a local politician bragging about how transparent he thought local government is. "We are transparent. All you have to do is file an open records request and I will make the determination if the request is legitimate". I WAS going to call or email members of our House legisla- tive delegation inquiring their comments about Speaker of the Georgia .House David Ralston. Ralston, an attorney, has been under fire for delaying his clients' trials on the basis his legislative duties were a prior- ity. That is'allowed because of. the law he pushed excusing at- torneys who are legislators from expeditious trials. I didn't call or email since Will said he texted our delegation but didn't get a response. As I asked Will, "fou are not sur- prised at not getting a response are you?" We both concurred that we know who butters our delegations' bread when they are under the Gold Dome for 40 days. CONTACT Don Daniel at tuUaybear@bellsouth.net to answer The Question or make a printable comment. Don't forget to listen to The Reporter On The Radio on Majic 100 on Sunday mornings at 7. Watch the show on Forsyth Cablevi- sion. Donald Daniel is the founder and former publisher of The Monroe County Reporter. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR To the Editor: Forsyth Woman's Club would like to th ak our community for another won- derful Father-Daughter Dance, held at Hubbard Elementary School on Saturday, Jan. 26. The event would not have been so success- ful without the support of many people and local businesses. We would like to say a special "Thank You" to: Hubbard Elementary/Mr. lay Johnston, principal; United Bank; Southern Smiles; Middle Georgia Realty/Mrs. Connie Ham; Mr. Tommy Johnston and State Farm; Gator the DJ; Mr. Will Davis & The Monroe County Reporter; Lt. Willie Brown; Ms. Georgia Tarpley; Thanh Nguyen; MPHS Beta Club volunteers; MPHS Key .Club volunteers; Reflections Photography Studio/Ms. Jan Hatten.We would espe- cially like tO thank all the fathers (or father figures) and daughters and everyone who attended. We ap- preciate your support of this event. The Forsyth Woman's Club is a service organiza- tion whose goal is to work together to improve our community. The money raised through, our fundraising efforts goes back to the community in the form of scholarships for local senior girls and contributions to local organizations that serve this community and our country. Scholarship applica- tions for the 2019 scholarship(s) will be available soon. Applicants should be senior girls who reside in Monroe County. Thank you again, Forsyth/Mon- roe County, Dance! for another wonderful Father-Daughter Cathy Bankston Monroe County COUNTY GOVERNMENT UPDATE by Eddie Rowland n Feb. 27-28, commis- sion chairman Greg r and I visited the state capitol with many other county commission- ers from around the state. We are members of the Association of County Commissioners of Geor- gia (ACCG) which, among other things, is our legislative advocate. During this legislative session, there were several significant policy issues and talking points brought up that need our call to action. I have listed these issues below and my personal opinion on them which coincide with the stance that ACCG has taken: 1. HB 23 - Authorization for EMC's to provide broadband service, qtfis will allow EMCs to service an area if existing internet providers are unable or unwilling to do so. I support this as an effort to expand rural broadband in all areas of the county. 2. HB-182 - Sales tax from out of state vendors, HB 276 - mod- ernization of the tax collection system, HB 448 - Hotel/Motel tax. These allow improved col- lections and the right to collect sales tax and hotel/motel tax from out of state and on line sellers of more than $100,000 in Georgia annually. I support this as a way to level the playing field for the businesses that actually reside and do business here vs.-those who only do such business on line and outside our state. 3. HB 302 and SB 172- Lo- cal design standards preempted. This allows the state to regulate house design standards. While I am interested in making sure homes built meet some minimum standards, I feel that we can make those decisions better on a local level rather than a state level. I'm sure there are good arguments for both but at this time, I oppose this bill. 4. HB 316 - Voting machine replacements and elections bill of 2019. Our current voting equipment is antiquated. We are Monroe County commissioner Eddie Rowland, Gov. Brian Kemp last week in Atlanta. interested in safe, secure, aJad ac- cessible elections: These replace- ments will be paid for by the state and will be a voting machine that is both.touchscreen and delivers a paper ballot at the same time. Our elections officials say this is a good deal and I am in favor of it. 5. HB 465 - Mandates on public water systems. This bill creates new requirements for public and private water systems such as notification requirements re- garding termination of service, specifics on customer service standards, how and when billing should occur, and prohibits local authority to issue property liens due to non-payment. I oppose this bill because it dictates to the county how we can collect water bills. Local governments need to determine how public water right, shakes hands with systems are run. After all, if the water system comes up short each year, it is the local citizens who have to pay for the shortfall, e;een . those on wells. These are the bills that I felt most impacted our county. I gave you a very short version of the bills with my opinion. Please research them and come to your own conclusions. And most im- portantly, let your representatives know what you do and do not support. We owe it to ourselves and our children and grandchil- dren to help guide policy in the direction that makes our county and state great. Eddie Rowland represents District 2 on the Monroe County Commission. SERVING YOU Robert Dickey R- District 140 404-463-2246 DahWashburn R- District 141 404-656-01 52 John Kennedy R- District 18 404:656-0045 Susan Holmes R- District 129 404-656-5132