Over the past few weeks, some issues have been discussed, but the facts stated were not entirely correct. So let’s discuss them again using accurate information.
Issue: Daryl Petermann has made money an issue regarding the Richmond Hill City Center. After researching and speaking with people “in the know,” his numbers have proved to be incorrect. Petermann said in his recent letter to the editor that from March through December 2010 the city paid out $900,000 in operating costs.
Fact: I have received financial records from the city through the Georgia Open Records Act. According to the report, January through December 2010 financials were as follows: total expenditures, $635,308.81; net sales, $135,115.33; profit/loss, $500,193.48; hotel/motel tax, $354,360.16; and net cost to the city, a loss of $145,833.32.
Keep in mind that the hotel/motel tax is a 14 percent tax paid by people traveling through Richmond Hill, 7 percent of which is given back to the city. The 7 percent is authorized by law to be used by the city on such projects as the City Center. The net cost is the only tax money that comes out or goes into the pockets of Richmond Hill taxpayers.
If you look at costs from January 2010 to July 2011 the financials are as follows: total expenditures, $1,002,731.81; net sales, $318,210.33; profit/loss, $684,521.48; hotel/motel tax, $565,249.01; net cost to the city, a loss of $119,272.47.
Since April 2011, the City Center has been repaying the city and at the present rate will be revenue neutral by the end of 2011.
Fact: The City Center would have been built on land that would have been given to the city, with a source of revenue being the Richmond Place Golf Course/Club House, had it not been for stipulations on the property. After several people tried to get all of the issues worked out, the City Center was moved to J.F. Gregory Park. This move ended up increasing the total cost of the project because of the one-year delay.
Fact: The aquatic center was and is a two-part project. It includes a swimming pool to be constructed at a later date. With the economy as it is today, maybe the delay of the pool is a good thing.
Issue: Jan Bass’ employment record with the city, which I have received through the Georgia Open Records Act.
Fact: While on the clock during her employment with Richmond Hill, she was completing and sending out job applications stating that she, personally, was responsible for obtaining more than $812,703 in grants for the city. In truth, the city had applied for two grants that were later denied. Bass’ only responsibility in this was to complete the paperwork.
Fact: While on the clock during her employment, she talked with friends on Facebook, telling them how “bad” her two bosses were.
Fact: While working for the city, she was late for work on multiple occasions and was written up more than once for this.
Fact: Bass called and tried to pay a computer company to come in and delete some entries on her work computer. It turned out that the company she called was the same company that did work for the city. The company e-mailed the city manager to make him aware of Bass’ actions.
This is a person whose employment with the Richmond Hill was ended due to serious work-ethic issues. Her file has been provided to the Bryan County News, Bryan County Now and WTOC TV. This is a matter of public record and needs to be shared with our taxpayers.
Issue: There have been letters printed recently stating that the City Council meetings are not fair and not open to the public.
Fact: Meetings are open to anyone who would like to attend. Any and all are welcome to attend, ask questions and request records that are open to the public through the Georgia Open Records Act.
Fact: City Council meeting minutes are online within 24 hours of the meeting.
Fact: There is a group of people who want to see the city manager and the planning and zoning director replaced. This group claims that these two people are keeping information away from the taxpayers.
Fact: The city has had no tax increases since 2007. The taxpayers should be very thankful to the management and employees of Richmond Hill for their conscientious efforts.
Issue: Mayor Harold Fowler mailed out a postcard endorsing John Fesperman and Jan Bass.
This is unethical, because the mayor should not endorse any candidate – he should keep a neutral position on all issues brought before the council. By mailing out this postcard, it hinders the voting ability of the City Council members. The Mayor only has a vote on issues that have resulted in ties.
Taking care of necessary issues may not be done as quickly as taxpayers would like, but rest assured that they are being taken care of in a timely and cost effective manner.
In the end, it’s really up to each and every registered voter to do their homework and ultimately vote for the person who will be best for Richmond Hill. So vote – it’s that important.
Clark lives in Richmond Hill. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.