What goes up does not necessarily come down. Each year, the residents of Midway send their property taxes to Liberty County, but we see very little of that money come back to us.
After receiving approximately $1 million in property taxes, what exactly does the county do for Midway? The city of Midway provides water, sewer, garbage collection, police protection, fire protection, traffic court, and utilities. And the county does ... ?
Midway has its own police department, eliminating the need for the county to cover the city, as it once did. This was a county expense, but no longer. Where’s our refund?
The county provides us with jail space when it’s needed, but shouldn’t our taxes already cover this expense? Instead, the city pays extra for housing a prisoner in the county jail with 10 percent of our fines and $35 per day.
Midway has its own fire department, which also covers part of the county outside of city limits. The county pays the city $12,000 a year for our firefighters to do a job that the county cannot do. Our city fire volunteers do not get paid for doing the county’s work. The city should charge the county enough so that our volunteers are paid for covering the county.
Under a contract that expired in 2011, Hinesville was paid $30,000 to cover a small portion of the county, including Flemington. Then Hinesville asked for $179,722 to cover part of the county and $151,609 to cover Flemington. Yet, Midway Mayor Clemontine Washington is content with approving a contract for a mere $12,000.
Now the county wants to take over the city’s fire department and equipment. In return, the county will man the station with three paid firefighters covering only 12 hours a day. Oh, I forgot to tell you that each household will be further taxed $100 on top of our existing property taxes.
The city relies on the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission to handle our building-code approvals and we pay them $24,000 a year above our taxes, according to the financial director’s briefing to the city council.
And speaking of building, Midway appears to be anti-business. A property owner reportedly is trying to build a mini shopping area at U.S. 84 and Isle of Wright. The county and city have put the property owner through the wringer with constant obstacles and delays to overcome. It appears that the mayor and several members of the city council have no concept of business.
As an example, Washington reportedly sent a police officer to shut down the project because they put up a “silt fence,” which is part of a soil-erosion test required to get a permit. This was not construction but a required pre-construction test.
With Richmond Hill becoming overpopulated, why hasn’t the city encouraged more housing developments? Two subdivisions, Edgewood and Colonial Oaks, have remained stagnant for more than two years, but I digress.
To promote Liberty County, an advertisement concept was presented and Midway was asked to buy space in a Liberty County magazine. The ad reads, “Midway, Gateway to Liberty County.” Midway is no “gateway.” It is a destination with many historical sites. When will the city officials realize that Midway is not a doormat for Liberty County?
So, what does the county provide? The citizens of Midway should call the mayor at 884-3344 and instruct her to get Midway’s property taxes back from the county.
Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway and has written for trade publications in various fields.