EDITORIAL: Local governments can’t lower costs while the state shifts responsibility

Every Georgia resident should stand up and salute their representatives in Atlanta. Those representatives, while talking about lowering the cost of government, are constantly figuring out ways not to lower government’s cost but shift those costs to local taxpayers.

There are two recent examples. The change in the law for ad valorem and sales taxes on vehicles is one. While little has changed as far as money coming in, Bibb County Tax Commissioner Thomas Tedders said, there have been added costs. For example, staff training on the new Title Ad Valorem Tax system. And by state law, the tax commissioner’s office has to mail the state all the titles processed weekly. The postage was picked up by the state. Now local governments have to pay the postage that runs $3,100 to $4,100 annually. The state also used to pay for state-specified printer toner. Tedders had to add $35,000 to cover those additional costs. The commissioner’s office does get to keep 1 percent as an administrative fee for the TAVT, but that doesn’t cover much.

In another instance, Sheriff David Davis submitted on Tuesday his plan to the Macon-Bibb County Commission for complying with the new state gun law that requires open access for licensed gun owners to carry their weapons in government buildings if there isn’t a screening system manned by certified deputies. The cost of installing such a system at the Government Center, the sheriff said, is $252,000 in one-time equipment costs and $313,000 annually to pay for personnel. Not one dime from the state is coming to help counties and cities pay for this mandate. Certainly, local governments could decide not to have screening and watch the lawyers gather if something awful does occur.

Our local representatives in the General Assembly need to think through the local ramifications before voting for something that increases local government’s costs by fiat.