Mayor Reichert is proposing a one mill property tax increase for a $2 million “entitlement” to fund health care, economic development, museums and arts programs. I firmly and adamantly oppose any tax increase much less one that becomes an entitlement and removes the tough decision-making process. I have always been a strong supporter of economic development and found ways to fund it without a tax increase during my 10 years as a county commissioner. I am a past president of the Museum of Arts and Sciences and have always been a strong supporter of that museum. However, when we did not have the revenues to support previous funding I was the first to propose cuts. Julie Moore, assistant to the county manager for budget and strategic planning, was quoted that “just about all revenue sources are down or flat.” It is important that our mayor and commissioners establish priorities, fund essential services and then look at what else they can fund. Local government cannot be all things to all people.
Garbage collection has not been mentioned in any of the proposals. The former unincorporated area is charged $38.25 per quarter for collection as opposed to the former city area being charged $45 per quarter. I firmly believe Macon-Bibb should privatize all garbage collection and get out of the landfill business. The landfill is a significant liability to Macon-Bibb and should be closed. I believe there could be significant savings. Privatization of other services should be considered as well.
Attrition and retirements will not alone cut it. The administration has to “right size” the government. Consolidation of Macon-Bibb County was to create a government that could operate more efficiently and at less cost. Macon-Bibb should not be running a job’s program.
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I recognize that the budget shortfall will be difficult. Our commissioners are elected to serve the people but it is not a popularity contest. They have to be willing to make the tough decisions regardless of whether it is popular or how much it hurts. There is only so much revenue and the easy way out is to raise taxes. If they cannot make these tough decisions they should not be serving. I will continue to oppose the categorizing of certain programs in an “entitlement” set aside and any tax increase.
-- Elmo A. Richardson Jr.
Two parallel news headlines captured my attention: “Unholy terror, dozens more Christians kidnapped by ISIS in Syria,” and “Dramatic rescue, crews save 19 manatees caught in Fla. drain pipe.” At least we have our priorities right.
-- Dan Topolewski
Treaty with Iran
When Israeli sources leaked the terms of the proposed deal with Iran, various U.S. government spokespeople contended that the Israeli government didn’t know what was really going on. But Monday’s Associated Press report from Geneva matched those from Jerusalem. Iran will be allowed to keep 6,500 centrifuges spinning and intrusive inspections will stop in 10-15 years. Oh. And there is no indication of any restrictions on Iran’s missile development. The International Atomic Energy Agency made clear that it will lack the tools to effectively monitor the kind of nuclear program that Iran will be allowed to maintain. Iran, being fully aware that the international community lacks the will to stop it will upgrade all the uranium they need for their nuclear arsenal.
Iran, a terrorist state, will thus become a nuclear state. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry want us to believe that this won’t happen for another 10-15 years when the ayatollahs are gone. But if the deal now taking shape is indeed finalized, the chances for regime change disappear. This deal will help cement the ayatollahs in power. Israel, then the relatively moderate Arab states and eventually the United States will suffer the consequences. This is part of Netanyahu’s proposed message to Congress and Obama doesn’t want it to be heard.
-- Hill Kaplan
‘Out to get you’
I usually read the editorial page and then the comics, Wednesday, I read the rant by Miguel Faria. I was more amused than when I read B.C. comic. Faria’s generalities and raving only confirm my belief. If you believe they are out to get you, they will be, soon.
Help is available, try to seek it out. Naïve? If you say so, but naïveté is a lot less dangerous than constant fear. David Koresh, indeed. If that is the best example he can come up with I believe he needs to write for National Enquirer. But then we would miss his tabloid reporting here.
-- Michael Collins
‘What were they thinking?’
Two experienced combat soldiers Christopher Kyle and Chad Littlefield tragically lost their lives at a shooting range in Texas by the hand of a third soldier suffering from PTSD. The shooter had previously been confined to a mental hospital and diagnosed as schizophrenic.
Taking these facts into consideration there must have been other activities better suited for a soldier supposedly suffering from combat fatigue than putting a weapon in his hands again. What were they thinking?
-- Johanna Sochacki
Keep the SWCC
Don’t let some dirty deals in Atlanta rob Georgia of its precious clean water. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal says he is in secret negotiations that will allow some unnamed company to impact our state’s waters. To do this, he is demanding the General Assembly defund and dismantle a small agency that is tasked to keep Georgia streams and rivers clean. That agency is the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission. For 80 years the SWCC has slowly improved the quality of our surface waters by promoting better farming practices and soil stabilization at construction sites.
Different business deals come and go over time as the economy changes, but we need clean water every day and forever. Macon’s award-winning tap water comes from the Ocmulgee River. If you value clean water, let your state legislators know. Ask them to keep the SWCC independent and fully funded to protect Georgia’s water.
-- Lindsay D. Holliday
Bibb County Supervisor,
Ocmulgee River District,
Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission
Your readers might be wondering why there is so much fighting about a “right-to-work” in Kentucky and other states. Everyone knows there is no such thing as a right to work. What we have under law is the privilege to apply for work; not a right. If workers have any economic rights, the one that matters most would be the right to collective bargaining.
Strange as it may sound, this particular right depends by necessity on the cooperation of many workers. That’s because unorganized individuals do not possess significant economic power in job markets dominated by well-organized employers. So, the basic purpose of labor unions is to make the right to collective bargaining workable.
You’ve probably heard that labor unions tend to rub politicians in the South the wrong way. About 60 years ago, these politicians gained a significant advantage over the labor unions by adapting an old political strategy applied by the ancestors -- secession. They crafted state laws named “right-to-work” that encourage workers in union work places to secede from the labor unions that provide them the benefits, rights and advantages of a union job.
History tells us the Civil War effectively abolished secession as a political tactic for states wanting to escape their obligations under the U.S. Constitution to guarantee the civil rights of their people. But, that has not prevented the politicians from applying the secession tactic in other areas of our lives such as the right to collective bargaining.
-- Tom Louderback