18 May 2020

Bess Tuggle's IMHO: The Week in Review - Newton Co Looking to Raise Property Taxes

A little good news to start this weekly review.  Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center is opening up “Wild” summer camp opportunities!  For those that haven’t been, Charlie Elliot, located in Mansfield, is an -awesome- place for children and adults alike.  Camps are for children from age 7 to 16, and there are day and overnight camps available.  Call Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center at (770) 784-3059 or visit their website www.georgiawildlife.com/camps.  From personal experience (through Scouts and school field trips) all their programs are safe, well run, and ALL FUN!

As Newton County Schools consider calendar options, Rockdale County Schools are planning ahead for budget cuts.  Not raising taxes, but where they can cut their costs to stay within budgets.  GO Rockdale County Schools!!!  Here’s hoping for a “trickle down” effect on Newton (schools and government in general).

Now it comes down to “The things that make me go ‘hhhmmmm…’”

The Covington grant program for small business is expanding.  Overseen by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the grant expansion is being open to qualifying business’s inside Covington City Limits, as opposed to being limited to the Central Business District.  Funding for the grants is what I question.  “The council designated $200,000 for the program, with the funds coming from the city’s MEAG trust fund, which is made up of revenue generated by the city’s electric utility.”  (Per the Newton Citizen)  Hold on and back up here.   

Revenue generated by the city’s electric utility?   

I know it hasn’t been long since I read that electric rates were going up to cover Covington’s debt to Plant Vogle.  Shouldn’t revenue go toward debt service before going to business grants? Someone help me out here, ‘cause it makes me go “Hhhhhmmm…”

(Deep breath.  I’m not gonna cuss, I’m not gonna cuss, I’m not gonna cuss…)

Newton County commissioners are considering a millage rate increase to cover the cost of their proposed budget due to a decrease in revenue thanks to Covid-19.  See Rockdale County Schools – aren’t some budget cuts in order?  Using Covid-19 to justify an increase sounds like a lame excuse to me.  While I don’t doubt there’s been a decrease in revenue, have they considered the savings incurred while employees worked from home?  The government buildings are still there, but their expenses should have gone down considerably.  Lower utilities (electric, water), trash service, cleaning services, general miscellaneous products (toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, hand sanitizer…), just to name a few.  I’d like to see a line-by-line budget report.  I think we, the citizens, are entitled to it.  I ain’t holding my breath though.

Early voting begins Monday, May 18th.  GET OUT AND VOTE, FOLKS!!!  Get out and VOTE!