Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pete Liakakis Will Raise Property Taxes (Part 3)

When this commission took office 3.5 years ago, the entire county budget was around $350,000,000. Today right now the current budget is $502,000,000. That's unbelievable and any incumbent candidate who calls themselves a Republican ought to be ashamed. Oh I know you didn't vote to raise our property taxes in 2005, it was Chairman Pete Liakakis who cast the deciding vote.

What these Republicans, Stone, Gellatly, Farrell and Kicklighter have done is vote for the $152,000,000 in new spending that ran the cost of government up to its current $502,000,000. They can not have it both ways, "I've never voted to raise taxes" gets zero credibility after they admit to spending $152,000,000 additional each year. So if you enjoy higher property taxes and less in return from county services, then your choices should be to return the incumbents.

Consider what has happened to our economy in 2008. Locally and statewide sales tax collections are down 15-17% - this effects LOST and SPLOST money budgeted higher but will certainly be less. Next, since 75% of the entire county budget is from property taxes (which were increased by this commission) and that the average property has declined in value by 5-10% this year, what do you think is in store for next years budget?

Can you say "oh no, please don't raise may property taxes again." Ask your commissioner what he or she has against impact fees because impact fees are the only way out of this nightmare unless you are willing to accept somewhere in the neighborhood of a 3 mil property tax increase.


Anonymous said...

John, when you lose this time (and you will) you will be an offical THREE TIME LOSER.

john McMasters said...

Yes I understand that and I will accept that. Better to have spoken out than to have remained silent. Changing policy is the objective, and we are winning that effort. You should have figured this out by now.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McMasters, I happen to like all the current Commissioners ...but while this County is not broken, I would like to not sit back and watch it break under current leadership. I hope they start singing a different tune. Your take on taxes and impact fees make sense. What will the Commission do next year and over the next four years to make budget? Why do we keep taxing ourselves to death in Chatham? It is time to look at some new ways of doing things. I hope the Commissioners start realizing this real soon. I'll be honest - I don't want to vote for you but I might have to.

Dean Kicklighter said...

John McMasters- The Republican, The Democrat or The RepubliCrat?

By: Dean Kicklighter
Chairman Pro-Tem,
7th District
Chatham County Commissioner

Shortly after being sworn in as a Commissioner 8 years ago, I remember trying to digest the fact that I inherited a budget nightmare containing a 10 to 12 million deficit.

- The Commissioners had to cut everything imaginable to avoid a tax increase, including assistance to the blind, mentally handicapped, etc…

But the truth shall be known…
• Throughout my eight years of service on the county commission, not one Republican has ever voted to raise/increase the millage rate on property taxes
• After the economy picked up and the county revenues increased, many of the services that were needed but cut during the down trodden times were restored, new and much needed services were added and existing but neglected services were enhanced to acceptable levels.
• John, you understand the following important budget information but choose to dismiss it for now because it benefits you to disregard it while you are running for Chairman. It’s a very important budget fact and the general public should know and understand that the Chatham County Commission does not have ultimate authority over the great majority of the total budget.
Example: If a Constitutional Officer says that his/her department needs more monies, they can sue and prove their need for the additional monies. This happened once during my time on the Chatham County Commission and the court ordered the county give the Constitutional Officer additional monies.

John, the area of the Chatham County budget that you and I considered mandated expenses when we served together on the Commission still exists and it is that portion of the budget that has greatly increased the total of the overall budget throughout the years since you left office.

The areas and/or the departments that the County Commission has total budget control over is in much better shape now than when compared to your days on the commission. Due to increased revenues, the current Commission was able to restore services, improve services and enhance existing services that we were forced to cut or neglect back in the days when we faced the 10 to 12 million dollar deficit.

We’ve done nothing fancy. We simply take care of the citizens in the best way that we can with the monies that are available. Should the revenues tighten as you predict, I’ve been there before and I’ll go there again, I’ll do my best to tighten the services to match the revenues.

As a Republican and as the Republican Minority Leader on the Chatham County Commission, I tell you that I’m not worried and I encourage you to not concern yourself with the Republicans on the current County Commission as you obviously did when you wrote about an increased budget and stated that “any incumbent candidate who calls themselves a Republican ought to be ashamed”.

I am much more concerned with people who write as if they are the torch barer of a political party, no matter which party when in fact their record completely differs from their writings. In this case, it is you John, not me or any of the other Republicans currently serving on the Chatham County Commission that’s quoted in the Savannah Morning News expressing support for Barack Obama!

Apply your quote to yourself and it makes good sense!

You might be a RepubliCrat if...
Your a Republican and your quoted in the paper supporting Barack Obama. You “ought to be ashamed.”

John McMasters said...

Dean, thanks for blogging. Much of what you say is true, but not all. For instance: when I left the commission on 1/1/05 I left an 8.3 million dollar unreserved MO fund balance and about 3 million in SSD. What's the respective balances today? You have less in reserve today than 3.5 years ago and that's after RECORD TAX DIGEST GROWTH in 05,06,07.

What you call "restored" budget items to me should not have been fully restored without proper underlying reserves. That's one of the ways you inherited a wrecked and bankrupt county back in 2000. Remember how the commission before you, 1996-2000, thought spending down the reserves was good for tax payers because "it wasn't right to sit on tax payer funds."

I know one of the biggest wasted excesses is the $110,000,000 jail expansion. Sure a constitutional official was saying he has to have but when you look at cost per bed space Dean you discover that in state it runs around $40,000 per bed and out of state (California) it reached upwards of $90,000 per bed. So you all kept silent while Al asked for and you approved new jail bed space construction at $120,000 per bed! That my friend is "pretty fancy."

I do believe you Dean when you say if the shortage comes as I have predicted you will fight not to raise taxes but you know Pete Liakakis will vote to raise taxes and you are supporting Pete, a Democrat.

If I'm not elected for some reason (I admit it's a longshot) and the budget next June comes up short with a proposed tax increase, I may run a full page ad reminding county taxpayers who on the commission supported Pete and that's who they can look to for higher property taxes.

How is Building Regulatory Services doing? A little short on funds? What are you going to do? Troubles are starting and more cracks are sure to develop.

About this Obama thing. I never said "I am supporting Obama" get the quote right before you pontificate any further and twist the facts.

What I said was I was considering voting for Obama. November 4th, is 9 weeks away. Let's see who McCain picks as VP. I'm not thrilled with Obama's VP pick so there's a chance I'll vote McCain/?.

If you will take the time to read my entire quote from Jan 08, you will find that I said I didn't really like any of the choices and as such I meant I would have to wait and see. But you and a few other far right wingers decided to jump up and down and make an issue out of it.

This may send chills through some of your associates, but I have no problem voting for a black candidate. Obama does lack experience there's no way around that but the prospect of more George Bush like policies won't work either.

So my good friend Dean, isn't that the crux of 2008? No perfect or easy choices this year. All bets are off is what I'm seeing nationally and in Chatham County. Isn't that why you are supporting a Democrat who needlessly raised property taxes in 2005?

I have tried and will continue to discuss policy not personality. Appreciate you doing the same. Thanks for blogging.


Anonymous said...

Dean Kicklighter is part and parcell bought and sold by the special interests.

The man is a disgrace to public service - more like self service.

If McCain puts Country First, Kicklighter puts himself first.

He is not the type of person that we need serving in public office.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McMasters: the Savannah Division of the Women's League of Voters has left your name out of their voter's guide. Not right!

They have Liakakis running unopposed.

I emailed them to make the correction -- no response.