Reading the results of a recent local poll has prompted me to put my 2 cents’ worth in. The poll asked, “Should the city council and the county commission enter into a new study of consolidating the two?” The good news is that there were only 44 percent who were in favor of this idea. The bad news is that it is about 43 percent too high.
Let me explain: I recently completed work on utility projects for Athens-Clarke County. ACC has already been down the road of merging the city and county services. While the services rendered to the residents of Athens-Clarke County are commendable, it comes at a high price. Taxes are very high there and every other vehicle on the road is an ACC vehicle.
Don’t get me wrong; they are doing a fine job, but there is no way to keep costs down when, in essence, what they created by merging the two entities was a massive new entity, not reducing the size of local government a bit. I talked with elected officials, ACC employees (my client) and property owners who in large part say that since the merger, costs have gone up across the board. Let’s also not forget Clarke County is the smallest county areawise in all of Georgia.
Here is something else to consider. You have to ask yourself: Do we have enough confidence in our elected officials at both levels to even discuss this issue? Most of us know the answer to that. So why spend our tax dollars on a new study at a time when what we really need is leadership and responsibility?
We have big spenders in Hall County and Gainesville government. What we don’t need is for them to create a massive new government bureaucracy and then tell us they need to raise our taxes to pay for it. Let’s wait on this issue until we have the elected leadership that we have confidence in.