It’s that time again: I’ve gotten the county’s letter in the water bill promoting the TSPLOST (which at one time was prohibited by law) and the “Vote Yes” yard signs are on street corners now. If you are undecided or even planning to support a new road tax, consider why I am not in favor of it.
By receiving their promo flyer in the water bill, it made me think of the system’s huge operating loss and whether the county deserves being given a new tax when what they have now is being mismanaged. In 2017 the county entered into a contract (without competitive process) to privatize water system operations. When administered correctly, privatization yields savings. But not here. The losses increased by $400,000. Then there was the decision not to produce our own water after $800,000 was spent to secure the source point on the Ocmulgee River, an advantage few water systems are afforded. The failure to develop our own water resources at that strategic location guarantees the new water main project around Juliette will result in flushing more water than the system will sell due to its age and distance from outside suppliers. So, if you’re planning to expand the system county wide, why would you buy it from other systems forever? That’s like renting a car your entire adult life.
This begs the same question the Afghanistan withdrawal does: was it amateur hour or were these seemingly reckless decisions made so a select few could benefit? I know who is not benefiting and that’s us rank and file citizens. But, that’s the way the establishment rolls. We should not empower and embolden them by authorizing a transportation tax. The tax digest has grown more than $100 million in the last 5 years; the county does not have an income problem. The real solution is service delivery, not growing government by $10 million in 5 years.
Lastly, I have much respect for certain members of the BOC and would hope their minds would change regarding spending in general and this TSPLOST. If passed, it authorizes the County to bond (borrow) $15 million. It’s like bond counsel is on speed dial, every time there’s a revenue source, we go into more debt. This is exactly why the federal government has to raise the debt ceiling continually and it’s why you and your family should vote NO on Nov. 2.
Mike Bilderback is a former District 3 county commissioner and county commission chairman.