With the most recent meeting which was held Saturday, discussions on unification of Roberta-Crawford County governments have picked up. I have attended every one of these meetings and have to say, no real specifics of why those who are opposed to it, have been offered.
Most of the objections boil down into three categories: 1. no one likes change; 2. shortsightedness; and wanting guarantees. I am in agreement about change, as it is hard to do something a different way when you are used to it another way. However, without change you become stagnant and you tend not to grow. 3. not being able to let go of the perceived power.
As Rep. Robert Dickey and County Commission Chairman Paul Chapman have both said, you have to look at the overall picture and have a vision for the future. It also takes putting your ego up on the shelf and leaving it there which is hard for all of us to do. Chapman has acknowledged that he would be put out of a job though he could run for one of the seats. However, my hat is off to him. Watching him and listening to him since he took office and in various different settings, to me, Chapman is a true statesman. We need more people who can put their egos on the shelf.
Leaders have to be visionaries, not just for the short-term but for the future as well. We cannot have tunnel-vision and expect things to progress in the community.
Personally, I believe the community to be at a crossroads where something is going to have to change. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Doing so is lunacy. I also think that down the road it will become even more imperative for governments, especially the smaller ones, to merge as streams of revenue dry up. In the bigger scheme of things, it just makes sense.
The county has held property taxes down but they are at a point, where that may no longer be possible if something is not done.
Life has no guarantees so you can’t expect to have guarantees when you unify governments. There are unknowns which have to be worked out locally because each community is different and what works in some communities might not work here.
People trying to hold onto positions of power is one of the reasons we have such a fiasco in Washington. We need people who truly put the best interest of the whole ahead of personal gain or agendas.
Unification gives us a chance to wipe the slate clean and elect a new slate of local officials. Boy, wouldn’t it be great if we could do that in Washington!? Of course, those already in seats could run for a seat in the newly formed government. It would be up to the voters to elect those positions.
I have heard people in these meetings say they don’t want to lose this or that. You would not be losing anything, including the small town feel. There will still be the same amount of citizens in the whole county. It would still be called Roberta-Crawford, incorporating both names. We already have the Roberta-Crawford County Chamber and Keep Roberta-Crawford Clean and Beautiful, now it would be across the board. Citizens living in the city would no longer pay city taxes, only the taxes from the unified government. Yes, there would be a franchise fee added to bills of those people using these services but that amount in comparison to increased taxes, pales. I would much rather pay $3-5 than hundreds in taxes.
It is not fair to say that the county wouldn’t be helping those in the city. What people haven’t grasped yet, is this will be a new unified government and it would benefit the whole not just a certain area.
At Saturday’s meeting, Marje Hamlin made a statement which I have heard said many times before in private conversations but not publicly. She said since she has lived here there has been a lack of cooperation and a lack of vision and that the community is going down the tubes unless something is done. The division here is evident, whether you want to admit it or not. Unification is a chance for everyone to work toward a common goal and create a new government which benefits the whole. Even citizens will give input as to the operation of the new unified government. It would be a collaborative effort.
It is not fair to assume there are ulterior motives or that it would only benefit a few. That is not the way it works.
The city is in the negative on its budget and is getting to the point where the sewer system needs updates. Unification would make it possible for even more grants and federal monies for such projects.
We can hold on tightly to the status quo and continue to let the community die and the quality of life continue to deteriorate, or we can be brave and try something different to enhance the future. Ask yourself if you want to be a visionary or are you satisfied with the status quo where nothing changes and we become stagnant.©2016
VICTORIA SIMMONS is an author, columnist, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz.