Opinion: Kudos and disheartening actions

The relocation of Bibb Tax Commissioner’s office and functions from the Bibb County Courthouse to the “Commissioner’s Service Center” on Walnut Street is an example of excellent re-utilization of property at a location that previously served as a drive-in eating establishment, auto dealership, bank, etc., over 50-plus years. A very important county department that had previously been shoe-horned into inadequate courthouse space has been transformed into an efficient organizational office that appears to say to all who enter, whether county resident or staff employee, “welcome, your county government will efficiently help you conclude your business.” Don’t take just my word: visit and be amazed by the adequate seating for the usually short wait, and you do not have to park in another county.

The two new roundabouts have been excellently constructed. (Caution, conform to marked speed, not a “dirt strip race track”) Regrettably, Forest Hill Road was not the beneficiary of good design, but enhances blight potential for this established neighborhood. Could we rename the road to “Bare Hill Road”?

County commissioners’ apparent desire to utilize allocation of equal blight funds per district leads my disheartening list as many citizens “smell” PAC’s for the upcoming 2016 elections. Each district does not have the same blight-fight needs, so inefficient blight-fight spending is more important to them so long as each commissioner can claim pork? Not a good example of cooperative consolidation.

It is difficult to reconcile the actions of Macon-BibbCounty Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Kamal Azar, based on The Telegraph’s write-up on the proposed new commercial development on Bass Road (I did not attend the hearing about it) when compared with his actions on the Zebulon Road commercial development. Bass Road apparently had current zoning, desiring variances. The Zebulon Road development desired zoning change. At the hearing, it looked like a vote for Zebulon Road rezoning denial maintaining the years-long Zebulon Road demarcation between commercial and established residential neighborhoods at the church and school properties when Commissioner Azar, during deliberations, “appeared to be adjusting” the applicant’s proposal into what P&Z could approve, and then there was an approval vote. (I applaud quality construction and decry empty commercial property, but government should not pick losers and winners, beyond possible fair tax or other reasonable incentives. Questions to developers should be as uniform as possible.)

Bibb Board of Education, as they prepare to request voter approval for ESPLOST, appears to be concerned about funds being allocated to charter schools. These schools are educating some of our public school students, correct? (I have only voted once against a SPLOST (the T-SPLOST because I didn’t trust those in control -- think of Forest Hill Road experience ). How do voters reconcile giving the board additional millions when they performed so inadequately overseeing Dallemand? Past experience overall tells me to vote “no.” While my heart (students) and my wallet says vote “yes”). Quandary?

Kudos to The Telegraph for its continuing efforts to inform citizens in spite of apparent never-ending opaque governmental operations.

Arthur D. Brook is a resident of Macon.