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Don’t put 1 local special interest above all others

POSTED: June 14, 2011 1:00 a.m.

Curtis Black's letter June 6 in The Times clearly displayed one of the major problems in the current county budget crisis. Many of us believe one service provided by county government is a vital need while another service is a waste.

I have no idea of the value of the Chicopee Ag Center to the community. I am sure that it has a positive impact on both quality of life and the local economy.

I am familiar with the impact of the Allen Creek Soccer Complex. Between Lanier Soccer and the YMCA, there are more than a thousand children (including my child) who regularly practice and play on the fields at Allen Creek. Numerous school games are played on the fields. Brenau University uses Allen Creek. There are adult league games at the complex.

Including practices and games, there are almost 200,000 visits to the soccer complex by players, parents and other spectators each year. Rental and user fees from these organizations pay a significant portion of the complex's budget.

Teams from outside Hall County visit the complex to play local teams. The parking lots are filled to overflowing with cars from not only Hall County, but from every county in metro Atlanta. These visiting teams eat in local restaurants and shop at local businesses. They often stay in local motels and hotels. This helps support local jobs and generates local sales and hotel-motel tax revenue.

During May, Allen Creek hosted the Georgia Youth Soccer Association Academy Cup Tournament with 108 teams from across Georgia. These players and their families filled local hotels so that the nearest available room was in Buford. Because it is one of the best soccer complexes in the state, Allen Creek hosts several of these tournaments each year. Major soccer and lacrosse tournaments are scheduled there this summer.

There are local businesses that derive large portions of their business from selling uniforms and other equipment to local teams and players. Sales tax is generated. These businesses pay local property taxes and provide local jobs. The soccer clubs that use Allen Creek hire young people as game officials.

We all have special interests. Each local government program affects quality of life and has economic impact on our community. We don't need to line up behind our own special interest and try to throw everyone else's under the bus.

I am willing to pay higher user fees for the services my family use. Programs might need to be reduced or eliminated. And, yes, as much as I hate it, we will need to change tax rates to make up for the losses of revenue from the severely declining property tax digest. I am willing to pay slightly higher taxes.

Compromise is the oil which lubricates a democracy. It is going to take a lot of compromise to work out an $11 million shortfall

Dale Perry
Gainesville



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