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Tax call ignores need for fire protection
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Editor, I would like to comment on the article in the Oct. 19 edition, “Tax meeting draws critics,” written by staff writer Mr. Joe Parker Jr.
Sir, What happened to investigative reporting and giving the public the full story?  Out of all the important information brought out, that the public needs to make an informed decision on the SPLOST Tax, you included only a quote about a humorous comment concerning the “judge’s gavel.”  Why did you not mention that in reality the vote is for 18 more years of SPLOST versus six?  This first six years pays for only one third of the ($19 million, not to mention millions in interest) justice center, and then we will be committed into another six years to pay the other third, and again, and again.
Point out to the people that since 1994 we have allocated $8.7 million in SPLOST revenue, to one building, the “jail,” and yet allocated an annual budget of $3.8 million in yearly taxes to fund that one building.  You could have made the comparison that our 7 fire stations (not including Hinesville), received $2.3 million in SPLOST funding, and an annual budget of $65,000, to cover seven buildings and equipment during that period.  That’s just $2,000 shy of the $67,000 the county commission appropriated for the regional fire service plan, or about the annual salary of two sheriff’s deputies.
Why not tell the people of Liberty County (excluding Hinesville residents) that while the national average expenditure, per person, for fire protection is $104 a year, in Georgia it’s $80 a year, and Hinesville $66 per year, but Liberty County only spends $7.33 for the safety of our citizens, and children in school (excluding Hinesville)? They are proposing purchasing two new ambulances, but when was the last time Liberty County purchased a fire truck?
Inform the citizens that many of those seven fire stations and fire trucks were built and purchased solely through the fund raising activities of our valiant volunteer firefighters and not through Liberty County taxes, funding or support.
Publish the tens of thousands of dollars we are wasting in interest payments every quarter for the marina, and the old hospital debts, not to mention the trade centers.  Inform them that our tax dollars are paying for that east end Tradeport, and $3.5 million in landscaping, not including the interest we are paying in loans, while the Liberty County Commission has exempted them from paying any Liberty County taxes.  Remind them to read the fine print under the vote yes or no.  A yes vote for this approval of this tax shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligation debt of Liberty County in the principal amount of $33,000,000 for the above purpose. What is the annual interest we will be paying and wasting on $33 million?  That could be $1.7 million in interest every year (assuming the 5 percent interest indicated in the public notice).  The Savannah Morning News, Published an article, “Liberty land purchase irks some” (July 13, 2008).  This article stated that Commissioner Stevens said, “no prepurchase cost analysis was undertaken, and he was simply told the cost of the land was $1.5 million.”  The article goes on to say, “Two appraisals were presented to some of Liberty’s commissioners.”  Why not all?  This scares me. There were three appraisals commissioned and only two were presented to some of the commissioners, and Commissioner Stevens says he was “simply told the cost of the land.”  This is good financial stewardship of our tax dollars?  I think not!
If I were committing to $1.54 million I would read the fine print.  Why did the Coastal Courier not follow up on this and run it for the citizens of Liberty County?
 The commission has already committed to these projects they want our SPLOST tax dollars to fund, and is attempting to convince us they are doing us a favor by allowing us to vote this in, so they will not have to raise our property taxes.  No, they are not doing us a favor.  They have already committed this money and now are giving us an ultimatum, not a choice. This hand full of men, out of the 61,000 residents of the county are spending our money hard earned tax dollars, in these uncertain and tragic economic times, like an open-ended credit card, and mailing us the bill.

Terrence Doyle
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