From: Bob Guthrie
Judicial Center Financing
Date: Friday, November 12, 2010, 11:36 PM
At 3:15 p.m. Wednesday Nov 10, while many of us were preparing to attend that evening’s celebration of the 235th birthday of the U. S. Marine Corps and making plans to attend Veteran’s Day celebrations the following day, both events in honor of those veterans who have fought and those that died, to preserve the freedoms we cherish, including the right to have a say in our government’s decisions, our county commissioners’ office posted an agenda on the courthouse bulletin board for their Monday evening meeting. (Agendas are posted to inform the public of the items to be acted upon at the meeting.) This agenda listed the consideration/approval to issue $10 million dollars of General Obligation Debt to “be used to finance all or a portion of the cost of (i) certain capital outlay projects for the County..”. The words “SPLOST5” and “Judicial Center” were not used so unless someone asked for clarification (which I did) you would not know that this debt was aimed at continuing, even expediting, construction of the controversial judicial/administrative center project. This project calls for two judicial centers, one at the existing courthouse and one outside the city limits at Hills Crossing.
Two court actions are pending related to this project. One, a recall of three commissioners, was filed in early July and has yet to be heard in court. The other, an injunction to stop the use of SPLOST5 funds for the construction of the judicial/administrative center at the Hills Crossing site is scheduled for a court hearing December 1st. If the commissioners approve going ahead with the issuance of the $10 million General Obligation Debt then the county will incur very substantial, non-refundable, expenses for underwriting, legal and other costs associated with this debt issue. The debt issue document also states that an annual tax levy upon all property within the county subject to taxation is irrevocably pledged should the sales taxes collected be insufficient to satisfy annual debt payments. The debt cannot be prepaid, so once it is issued the county cannot pay it off early if the various court actions underway (and other actions contemplated) result in the cancelation of the Hills Crossing judicial/administrative center project.
Both of our newly elected county commissioners who will be taking office in January, Andrea Harper and Chad Henderson, along with Congressman Rick Austin and Senator Jim Butterworth are on record as opposed to this project going forward as currently planned. WCHM radio has invited the County Commissioners, the Bi-Partisan Committee and the Injunction Sponsors to participate in a forum to answer questions from the public relating to the new judicial center project. Two of the three invitees accepted. One (the county commissioners) declined to attend and answer questions from the public.
A Protest Rally is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Monday, November 15th, at the Gazebo next to the courthouse. Everyone is encouraged to attend this rally and stay for the commissioner’s meeting at 6:00 p.m. Commission Chairman Doug Vermilya is still insisting that only a few citizens object to separating the judicial functions of the county and constructing a second judicial/administrative center out of town at the Hills Crossing site. The public needs to let him know that he is wrong and that MOST citizens strongly object to this plan!
Please invite all of your friends to take this opportunity to once again express their dissatisfaction with the county commissioners’ actions and to demand that the planned debt issue not be approved.
Thank you. Bob Guthrie