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8-24-04 Jackson BOC Financing Schemes Should Alert Other Counties

Oconee and other area counties should learn from Jackson’s mistake. Voters do care and will react when they learn the facts. . This area has not had any Recall Elections in a while. However, if spending and development are not brought into a reasonable range, the next election might be sooner than some realize.

AVOC

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August 22, 2004

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Jackson Courthouse To Cost More Than Estimated

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

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This project resulted in a change in the makeup of the Jackson County BOC in the recent election.The Chairman, who spear-headed the effort, lost to former Commissioner Pat Bell in a landslide! 84%!

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Yet, Oconee County is discussing on even more ambitious bond or borrowed money projects:$ 126 Million Wastewater Plan and a $ 350 Million Walton Water Project.   The ones providing the financing, designing and consulting stand to earn big bucks!However, the County, as with Jackson County Roads right now, is left with the debtwhen the fees are paid and the “consultants” are long gone.

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Oconee County, unlike Jackson, has less aggressive media coverage and voters do not yet know all the facts.Oconee and other area counties should learn from Jackson’s mistake.Voters do care and will react when they learn the facts.This area has not had any Recall Elections in a while.However, if spending and development is not brought into a reasonable range, the next election might be sooner than some realize.

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There is a difference in being progressive and responsible and in being arrogant and reckless with Bond Financing.

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The Jackson Herald

http://www.mainstreetnews.com/Arch/04/0818/Jack.html

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August 18, 2004

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BOC approves more debt for courthouse
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$ 2.3 million added to ACCG lease
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The total cost of the new Jackson County courthouse continues to grow.


The board of commissioners approved a $ 2.3 million “supplemental lease” with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia at its meeting Monday.
The BOC already has a 30-year,

$ 25 million lease agreement with the ACCG for the new courthouse.

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The majority of the additional $ 2.3 million will go toward new furniture and computer equipment for the new courthouse. It will be financed for three years.

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Many of the items have already been purchased and paid for by the county from general funds. However, the county has used up most of its cash reserves over the last two years in building and furnishing the new courthouse and is now short on cash.

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County leaders have reportedly said that no old furniture or equipment may be used in the new courthouse.

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With the new loan and out-of-pocket expenses,
the cost of the facility is now over $ 30 million.

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The new
$ 2.3 million lease was approved by the BOC Monday as part of its consent agenda and was not discussed in public by the board.


The Jackson Herald

http://www.mainstreetnews.com/Arch/04/0818/JackOpinion.html

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August 18, 2004         EDITORIAL

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Debt driving all county decisions

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If you thought the $ 25 million debt for a new courthouse was a lot, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
In the waning months of a discredited lame-duck administration, Jackson County leaders are wanting to create a lot more debt.

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The driving force behind that is the new courthouse, which
in the end will likely cost county taxpayers around $ 30 million.

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Not only is that building massive overkill in size and appearance, but it has also become the source of ongoing county expenses.

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Monday night, the county board of commissioners agreed, with no public discussion, to issue $ 2.3 million in more debt for the courthouse. County officials reportedly declared that no old county equipment (desks, chairs, filing cabinets, computers, staplers, clocks or anything else) ” will be allowed in the new courthouse. Everything must be brand new.

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Hence the debt this week of $ 2.3 million to pay for all that shiny new stuff. Heaven help us if a county employee had to use an old desk!

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And all of that is on top of other out-of-pocket expenses for the courthouse building, 160-acres of land and the expensive new roads.

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But a direct cost of around $ 25 million for the new courthouse is only part of the problem. Because of vocal opposition about how that project was done,
county BOC officials became fixated on “showing” the public that they were the “boss.”

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That fixation came with a high price, however. Consumed by the courthouse, county leaders dropped the ball on a number of other pressing projects.

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Chief among those projects were two industrial development roads for the $ 100 million Toyota industry that the county agreed to build way back in 2002.

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Those roads were supposed to have been finished by June 1 of this year. The county had two years to do them, but so far only a little dirt has been pushed around. All the equipment, manpower and funding was at the new courthouse.

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Now county leaders are trying to get that project going, along with a half-dozen other projects that have been lingering for two years in the shadow of that massive courthouse.

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But to do those projects quickly will take a lot of cash - and the BOC is broke
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Hence the move to have the county industrial development authority finance those projects. It’s a quick fix in the 11th hour to salvage the Toyota deal and to get started on other much-needed industrial development roads.


But doing that will create additional debt,
somewhere in the neighborhood of $ 15-$ 20 million.
And none of that is to mention the debt we will incur in building a new jail, one of the county’s most pressing needs today.


So how much debt is too much? !!!!!!!!!!

 


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