Where is the vision of our commissioners?
To the editor:
My fellow citizens of Clayton County, each of our sitting commissioners, (with the exception of Gail Hambrick) are re-elected; therefore, I must submit that we knew what they were when we picked them up.
As you know, on this past Tuesday, Commissioners Sonna Singleton, Wole Ralph and Gail Hambrick voted to balance the budget on the backs of property owners in this county.
The mere fact that the millage rate has been raised 5 mills (34.18 percent) is not surprising when, since 2008, the millage rate has increased from 13.453 mills to 20.953, which is outrageous. Adding to that, the recent percentage increase of the millage rate is not only the highest increase in the metropolitan area, but most likely the state of Georgia.
Citizens (particularly seniors), who have long supported our county, and provide the most stability, continue to be hit the hardest by being overtaxed. Our committed homeowners, businesses and seniors on fixed incomes are left to figure out how to survive the very poor fiscal decisions of our leaders.
Clayton is a treasure that I personally hate to compare to other counties. In the discussion of taxes and tax increases, I must call into question why counties that have more services, higher property values and cleaner roads/landscapes, did not experience these types of increases in their property taxes.
For example, Cobb County's millage rate was raised by 1.51 mills (15.7 percent); Gwinnett County has yet to raise its millage rate, and it remains the same at 13.25 mills. Their commission chairperson was quoted as saying, "It doesn't make sense to increase taxes when residents and businesses are struggling."
I would concur. And finally, our Southern Crescent neighbors, Henry County, closed their budget back in May without a millage increase. Of course, it took planning on the part of the commissioners, use of some reserves (savings), and careful budget cuts.
Our county has suffered, along with many others, during this very critical economic time. But as in each responsible household, during those difficult times, we do not make poor decisions that cause us to further our debt, ultimately to our own detriment.
This is the time that we tighten our belts and make quality, long-range decisions. In order for a county to prosper and thrive, the leaders must have vision and be willing to plan in order to make difficult choices with the public's interest at the forefront of those decisions. This, my friends, has not happened with our sitting commissioners.
As you well know, another election season is upon us in less than a year, and I implore you, let's not forget these and other actions by our commissioners. And by all means, let's not pick up this viper again.
SHEGALE C. CRUTE
Clayton County resident 15 years