Two major companies have changed course about doing business in Chatham County. WalMart is closing down an 800,000 square foot distribution warehouse in SEDA land (Crossroads Business Park) which it has occupied since 2001 and National Retail Systems 147,000 square foot distribution center will not be occupied (Ribbon Cutting ceremonies happened back in February 2008).
Then there's a real estate auction going on this weekend out at Tybee. A failing local real estate market and impending foreclosuers has generated 30 beach properties to be auctioned off to the highest bidders.
The Tax Assessors office has been busy sending out 21 day change of value notices to hundreds of people who have appealed their 2008 values, REDUCING the values. I know because we got two in the mail. Seems the value Chatham County put on the properties this year won't hold up under appeal when sales comps for like properties are compared.
Then of course the State of Georgia last week announced a reduction in money due Chatham County, about $7,000,000.
What this all means is next year's Chatham County budget will be very short on revenue. That means only two things; either we have to cut services or raise property taxes (there's a third choice and that's impact fees on new construction but does anyone really see this commission going against the Chamber of Commerce?) . Sorry to say raising property taxes is what the current commission has done (2005) and will do again next year. It is the hands of one man's vote, Chairman Pete Liakakis.
The vote will come down as a 4/4 split and Pete will have to decide it. I don't think people will be happy after Pete casts his vote. They will open their Georgia Power bill, their grocery expenses will be up, their Chevron/Texaco bill doubled and then there's their Chatham County tax bill. Man, it's going to be ugly.
Pete, you should have put some money aside in the boom years 2004-2007 instead of spending it all. Pete, please explain why Chatham County has LESS in reserve today than when you took office 4 years ago? Why did you support Al St. Lawrence's $110,000,000 jail when the real and accurate cost should have been half that? Voters want to know.