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3-29-09 Oconee Commissioners ignore voter opinion and input on Courthouse plans

SEE BOC 3-31-09 AGENDA ITEM 9: Discuss RFP for architectural consulting services for county judicial and government administrative facilities. (Wayne Provost). ............. At least one commissioner said in my presence that he was not in favor of moving the courthouse. Others said it was not in the works. One has said that he opposed buying the Booth and Christopher Estate properties adjoining the courthouse complex without a plan for the voters to see. What a befuddled way of deflecting real discussion of the courthouse plans. .

AVOC

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March 29, 2009

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Oconee Commissioners ignore voter sentiment on Courthouse plans

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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GUESS WHAT!   The Oconee County Commission’s agenda for March 31, 2009, has an agenda item to “consider Requests for Proposals for county judicial and administrative buildings”.   

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SEE AGENDA ITEM 9:   Discuss RFP for architectural consulting services for county judicial and government administrative facilities. (Wayne Provost).

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All last year (before county elections) and this year before the SPLOST vote on March 17, 2009, Oconee Commissioners played down courthouse plans.   Don Norris’s assertive statements on a new courthouse helped defeat him.  

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At least one commissioner said in my presence that he was not in favor of moving the courthouse.   Others said it was not in the works.    One has said that he opposed buying the Booth and Christopher Estate properties adjoining the courthouse complex without a plan for the voters to see.   What a befuddled way of deflecting a real discussion of the courthouse plans.

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For close observers, it was obvious this board was moving on the subject with a secret meeting with elected officials on December 17, 2008; 2008 SPLOST Summary at end of 2008 showing $ 4.3 Million for county facilities.

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The Courthouse project is following the path of the surprise announcement on the Big Park Purchase in 2001 and the building of a completely new jail last year and incurring debt without voter approval.   Plans and commitments were made out of the public view.

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I am convinced that some of the commissioners, particularly the Chairman, are enamored with building buildings and projects with cornerstones and name plates for EGO purposes.   Sheriff Berry has been quoted as saying security is difficult in the current building.   GUESS WHAT!?!? Scott Berry was included in the discussions and planning for the large courthouse renovation and expansion in 1996-98.   

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Scott Berry and Melvin Davis like to spend lots of money.   Any casual review of budgets since Scott Berry and Melvin Davis have been in office shows they are not real ‘CONSERVATIVES” although they chant those goals for state and national purposes.    To paraphrase a long-time client, neither Davis or Berry ‘.. has ever made a payroll… and the only check they ever signed was on the back of it….”

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It is amazing that many citizens got upset with the school board recently over a planned pay raise.   While timing was bad, some increase is warranted.   Just like the clamor over the AIG bonuses distracted attention from the larger spending by AIG, including money to banks and overseas operations.    

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Where are irate taxpayers over the idea of building a large courthouse complex??!   (Don’t be fooled by artificial names assigned to it).   After all, we are experiencing a downturn in revenues.     It is obvious to most observers in the private sector that Oconee’s booming housing and land boom of 2005-2007 is over.   We have more houses and approved lots than the market can support.   We will not meet the water revenue projections or sales tax revenue projections (for the multi-million Dollar Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Project) unless we allow more “affordable housing”.  

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Oconee Officials have prided themselves in the high costs of residences in Oconee County.   Really, how big a market is there for $ 500,000 + homes?!    Barrow County, with lots of affordable housing, has outstripped Oconee in growth in recent years- growing from 46,144 in 2000 to 70,073 todayWill Oconee’s over-zoning and spending bring on more “affordable housing”?   Those “PV Farms and Ghost Towns” will not sit there indefinitely.   Lenders and developers will look for a new market.   Do we want to let this happen?   Or do we want to slow down!?

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Just possibly, the Commissioners may be over-reaching on this courthouse project.   It may take more than a local friendly press to save them from the firestorm.   Let’s hope this venture wakes up enough citizens and taxpayers to slow down our local ‘SPENDING MACHINE”!

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Who knows, at the end of June, our officials will be eligible for RECALL petitions?!


SEE:

3-3-09 Oconee SPLOST Vote on March 17, 2009 – Courthouse Part 3

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12-12-08 Backroom Deals still running Oconee County – election notwithstanding

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10-2-08 Banking and Taxes - the Housing Slump is Local

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10-13-08 Oconee BOC should buy available 10-12 acres adjoining the courthouse complex – AND NOW!

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11-12-08 Oconee needs to rein in spending – revenue is declining Part 1

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11-12-08 Oconee needs to rein in spending – revenue is declining - Part 2

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SPLOST.Oconee.Projects.Summary.12.31.08.pdfx

Oconee SPLOST 2004 Funding Summary

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Oconee County Observations

http://www.oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/

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March 27, 2009

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What To Do With $ 4.2 Million
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By Lee Becker


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