Georgia County Government - February 2008 - (Page 9)

CountyMatters Local Governments and Legislators Must Strike a Balance as to Roles P By Jerry Griffin Executive Director The General Assembly, which is elected to manage state government, is superimposing its ideas and perceived needs on local governments and schools. olitical leaders today are both beneficiaries and victims of a new, rapidly changing paradigm resulting in large part from fast-evolving communications technologies. These technologies have made it easier to create election success, but the blogs and e-mail networks they enable make it possible to project someone’s thoughts as facts, instantaneously, leading to much potential misunderstanding. In this climate it is much harder to clearly inform people on, or truly debate, the complex public policy issues we face. Adding to confusion, around-the-clock news networks cover events in “real time,” largely divorced from context. As major newspapers continue to decline, no longer can we rely on experienced reporters to interpret complicated issues, within an appropriate framework, and publish information in a way that is readily digested by citizens. More and more, the public is forced to rely on the Internet for current information. It is within this atmosphere of superficial coverage, quick fixes and “simple” solutions that we find ourselves in the current session of the General Assembly. When one comes to elected office with the goal of cutting the size and expenditures of government and suddenly faces unmet needs owing to a growing state and economy – including a backlog of capital needs – reaching the original goal is difficult. At the level of the Legislature, it appears easier to cut local government than to tackle the size and expenditures of state government. Now, as nearly all attention focuses on local and school taxes, the state finds itself facing other serious issues that cannot be overlooked. Recent months have brought the realization that water, transportation and trauma care are very pressing issues, and that the state has major responsibilities concerning each. Last summer and fall, political debates were dominated by Speaker Glenn Richardson’s “GREAT” Plan to eliminate all property taxes. It is a subject that Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) believes needs to be examined. County commissioners suggest that possibilities for correcting tax problems exist without turning over all government decision making to Atlanta. ACCG wants to challenge all community leaders to look beyond the current focus, to the kind of intergovernmental structure that best enables us to move toward goals established by individual communities. We also encourage leaders to focus on ways in which Georgia can maintain its position of economic leadership in the region and nation. Our Constitution establishes a representative republic in the nation. What is happening in the Legislature is contrary to the spirit of the representative republic founded by the writers of the U.S. Constitution. Not only last summer’s tax proposal, but a lot of legislation we are seeing seems to infer that only the General Assembly is capable of making decisions for the citizens of this state, concerning services, spending levels and needs in every local community. Further, there seems no end to proposals to move the state to “government by referendum.” The referendum clearly has a place, but hard choices often have to be made to protect the health, welfare and safety of all communities. The fact is, our very form of government MATTERS continued on page 10 FEBRUARY 2008 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - February 2008

Georgia County Government - February 2008
President's Message
County Matters
Regional Focus on the Georgia Mountains: Rabun, Habersham and Stephens Counties
DNR Commissioner Noel Holcomb
Solid Waste Management in Georgia: New Challenges Ahead
Essential Elements of Negotiating Professional Service Firm Contracts
The Walker County Courthouse at LaFayette
Extension News: Partnerships are Key to Conservation Education
Research Corner: Interns: An Asset to Every County
NACo News: Counties and Climate Change FAQs
Georgia Flag to Travel to All 159 Georgia Counties
State Announces Regional Recycling Hub Grant Awards
Abraham Joins ACCG Support Staff
County Parade
ACCG Launches e-Magazine
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - February 2008