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8-14-08 Local Taxpayers should not have to ‘pay’ for declining state and county revenues

Oconee Commissioners have been spending, borrowing and gambling with Oconee’s Tax Digest during recent boom times. They are concerned that they may not have the next SPLOST to pay some of their big ticket items and debt already incurred.

AVOC

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August 12, 2008

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Local Taxpayers should not have to ‘pay’ for declining state and county revenues

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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When citizens experience income loss or financial stress, they have to curtail spending.   Unfortunately, high revenues and lavish government spending has made addicts of State and County Officials.   They need to tighten their belts like everyone else.

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Governor Perdue does not “wear well” in the financial shortfall of $ 1.6 Billion for the state.   How could the Governor and Legislature have missed the target that much?   Were they not following the economy and the housing and banking crisis?   The Governor exacerbated the situation by suggesting holding up the State Homestead Exemption Credit to Counties.   Without that continued state assistance on local property taxes, we can all expect approximately a $ 200 + in increased local property taxes.   The State Government should not pass the buck to local taxpayers!

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In Oconee County, the Sales Tax receipts showed a 1 % decline in revenue for the last Fiscal Year.   Oconee County has been spending and budgeting on an anticipated 5 % + annual increase.    A recent article in the Athens Banner-Herald reported the reaction of some local officials.  One commissioner, who owns retail stores, seemed surprised and is “sick over it.”    Gosh, most of us know about “rainy days” and plan for that.   This is no surprise to experienced business folks. Oconee.Sales.Taxes.08.LosSpl.3.23.08.pdfx

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Melvin Davis says we cannot cut the budget- it is tight now…. BULL!  Oconee’s budget has expanded multi-fold with Davis’s leadership on spending.  Davis’s statements, like his comments on his recent “primary mandate” of 100 votes, strain credulity.

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Oconee Commissioners have been spending, borrowing and gambling with Oconee’s Tax Digest during recent boom times.   They are concerned that they may not have the next SPLOST to pay some of their big ticket items and debt already incurred.   This kind of policy has the ring of “mortgaging our future”.Citizens should demand of the new board that we have real public hearings on SPLOST projects.   We do not need any more secret retreat planning and decisions on such matters. 6-8-08 “The Melvin Davis Record” – Secret Retreat and Beer & Wine Vote – Part 2

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SPLOST should be used for needed capital projects, i.e., investment in land for future courthouse and parking space, roads etc, rather than mega jails and mega parks that carry large annual maintenance and operations costs! 6-25-08 The Oconee County Courthouse should stay on Square in Watkinsville - Part 1

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The county commissioners cannot convince me that they cannot cut the spending.I think voters told them to in recent elections.   The “New Board” better take heed or future elections will make more changes.  Voters do not want more of the same-o, same-o as recently demonstrated by reappointing two members of the Planning Commission.  The average citizen has little confidence in the Planning Commission.It needs less development influence and some 20 year members need to GO!   Unless, the “new board” shows some leadership, citizens need to apply the pressure and heat.  Hopefully, we will get some decent press coverage now that the Chairman has been exposed as being weak.

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Tax bills will be going out soon.   We will all be expecting the decreases that the incumbents “bragged on” during the recent election cycle.   We all need to compare with last year’s tax bill and see if the BOC and BOE have gotten any kind of message on spending and taxes.  Tax Bills status in Oconee - http://www.oconeecountytax.com/


8-13-08 Forsyth County having budget woes

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/northfulton/stories/2008/08/13/forsyth_hiring_freeze.html?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstab

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August 13, 2008

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Budget shortfall freezes Forsyth hiring

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By NANCY BADERTSCHER

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Forsyth County Commissioners have put a temporary freeze on hiring while they come to grips with a projected $ 6.9 million budget shortfall that's largely attributed to a huge slowdown in development.

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Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse said a two-week hiring freeze will slow spending and give the board time to review all options — including across-the-board cuts in every department of county government.

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"Everybody is going to have to tighten the belt, suck it in," Laughinghouse said. "It's tough economic times, and everyone should have to realize that and participate in what it takes to bring the budget back into balance."…………………………..


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8-11-08 Oconee Sales Tax FY 07-08 Revenues decreased for first time ever

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The Athens Banner-Herald

http://onlineathens.com/stories/081108/news_2008081100544.shtml

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August 11, 2008

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Oconee hit by first-ever revenue dip

Budget woes

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By Adam Thompson

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WATKINSVILLE - Special sales taxes in Oconee County were a leaner cash cow than usual last year, and now officials are concerned about feeding this year's budget.

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Revenue from the county government's local-option sales tax and special-purpose, local-option sales tax declined only about 1 percent last fiscal year over the previous year.

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But that's the first year-to-year drop ever seen in Oconee, where the government has relied for at least a decade on the two penny-on-the-dollar taxes to supplement revenue for operations and capital spending.

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"I'm worried sick about it," county Commissioner Jim Luke said last week.

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In a normal year, without a down economy, sales tax revenue - about $ 10 million a year recently - should have increased at least 5 percent, Luke said.

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Last year's figures also should have received a bump because of new shops and stores that opened in the growing county, he said - but they didn't.

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"If you take all of the stores that did come on line, and add that to the losses ... it makes it pretty significant," Luke said.

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Already forced to dig deep into reserves to cover the county's $ 39.4 million budget for 2009, commissioners may have to make mid-year adjustments because of the lower-than-expected sales tax collections, said commission Chairman Melvin Davis.

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That could mean deferring some purchases, such as new county vehicles, Davis said.

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"We don't have a lot of room for play within our budget," he said. "It's kind of nip-and-tuck."

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In the long term, a downward or flat trend in collections could force officials to revise their plans for a new SPLOST initiative, said Jeff Benko, county finance director.

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Commissioners are expected to ask voters sometime next year to approve a new six-year, $ 40 million tax.

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The SPLOST collections are important for county finances, in part because they're expected to pay down debt for two large projects, the new Oconee County Jail and Oconee Veterans Park.

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Oconee officials' concerns reflect the turmoil now going on at the state level, where Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered $ 1.6 billion in budget cuts and put a homeowners' tax credit on hold because of declining revenue. Davis has said county leaders already are going ahead with $ 414,000 in budget cuts because of the tax credit freeze.

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Some area counties have yet to see the downturn in the national economy make a big dent in sales tax revenue, however.

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Athens' sales tax collections for fiscal 2008 are headed for a slight increase over the previous year, said Athens-Clarke Finance Director John Culpepper………………………


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