Georgia County Government - January 2009 - (Page 9)

CountyMatters Let’s Put Georgia’s Goals at the Forefront T By Jerry Griffin Executive Director In a time of shrinking revenues and re-evaluation of programs at every level of government, perhaps we should look at our overall goals for Georgia. he new Georgia Legislature will shortly convene for its 2009 session, and indications at this writing are that it will be a focused session dealing with the state’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget shortfalls and unexciting prospects for the Fiscal Year 2010 budget. Beyond the budget crisis, the agenda does not appear to be substantial, but there are very important issues that cannot be overlooked. The drought continues, focusing attention on the fact that Georgia must proceed with its water planning and the developing of additional storage capacity. Transportation infrastructure continues to be of critical importance –and as the recent high gasoline prices and shortages have demonstrated that infrastructure, in addition to our streets and highways, must also include additional buses and rail options. Trauma care also remains an issue as the maintenance of services in urban and suburban areas and the difficulty of even obtaining care in ex-urban and rural areas makes this an issue of wide concern to the legislature. Finally, there is the issue of taxes, particularly taxes collected by entities other than the state. Even though property values and assessments are static or falling and counties are expecting a large number of property tax returns this year, we anticipate there will still be legislation to limit assessment growth. There is certainly room for a lot of improvement in the property tax system and ACCG has for years recommended a comprehensive look at the state’s total tax structure to insure it is meeting the goals we all have for Georgia. In a time of shrinking revenues and re-evaluation of programs at every level of government, perhaps we should look at our overall goals for Georgia. Certainly, volumes of words have been written about the goals we all have, but there seems to be one key issue that has been the focus of every gubernatorial race in memory. That is economic prosperity through investments made by companies in Georgia facilities, and the provision of good jobs for our citizens. While we have a beautiful state with great people, businesses locate because they believe they can make a profit. Profit and the potential for profit colors nearly every decision that businesses make. In order to make a profit, however, a number of “inputs” are required and sometimes in the excitement over an expanded tax base, new activity in the community and new jobs for citizens, those “inputs” get lost. The key “inputs” are the responsibility of counties and cities and their agencies. For instance, nothing is more important than education, to make a community workforce ready. A workforce today must be skilled, and whenever possible, educated. Years ago, the abundant workforce was comprised of low-paid, hard workers. Today we are faced with the challenges of a knowledgebased era, with industries seeking work forces that are both educated and possessing real skills. Developing such a work force requires money. Infrastructure, including water and sewer and transportation, are critical to the success of any business and to the employees the business wants to attract. Public safety and emergency medical services, as well as hospitals or clinics and medical professionals are all “inputs” that assist businesses with their goals. Local government is directly responsible for providing part of the needed safety and health infrastructure, but it is also responsible for doing the things necessary to bring needed professionals to the community. Further “quality of life” issues such as recreation and parks facilities are a part of the “inputs” needed, as well. As the General Assembly comes to town and the immediate focus is aimed at taxes and potentially eliminating or limiting local government’s ability to raise revenue to develop these “inputs” for future prosperity, we urge lawmakers, especially, to think about what is needed to sustain Georgia’s status as the economic engine of the Southeast, which it has become. If the ways and means for establishing the needed “inputs” for business and industries are compromised, the future may not be as bright as we hope. ■ JANUARY 2009 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - January 2009

Georgia County Government - January 2009
President’s Message
County Matters
Forward-Thinking Bulloch County Leaders Put Progress on the Front Burner
Robert Farris: Champion for Georgia’s Forests
ACCG, BCBS of Georgia Work Together to Improve County Employee Health
Georgia’s Grand Old Courthouses: McIntosh County
Extension News: Cooperative Extension Generates ROI
Research Corner: How Does Your County Rate?
County Parade
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - January 2009