County commissioners want a united front - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

County commissioners want a united front

October 26, 2005

Albany -- County commissioners from across south Georgia meet in Albany today to discuss controversial issues, from the use of imminent domain to a sales tax for education. 

 Leaders of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia are going around the state to make sure county commissioners are on the same page when it comes to critical issues before lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session.

Some lawmakers are proposing adding three cents to the state sales tax to pay for education, instead of continuously raising property taxes. That way everyone who buys goods in Georgia, not just the people who own homes here, would help educate our children. But, the members of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia say they're not convinced that's the best plan. 

Dr. Charles Lingle said "As you know the economy ebs and flows. We want to make sure that 3%, if this is the manner they choose to fund it, will provide day in and day out income at that level so that we can maintain the schools in the necessary way."

Today, ACCOG leaders enjoyed a tour of the Flint Riverquarium after meeting with county commissioners from this area. Executive Director Jerry Griffin says the proposed 3-cents sales tax is just one issue they plan to lobby against in the upcoming session. "We're all concerned with property taxes, but for the three percent to work you've got to remove every exception in the sales tax laws."

Griffin also talked about proposed changes to the imminent domain law, which was intended to allow government bodies to condemn land for public use.  "Sometimes we can't build a road if we're not able to condemn property, or we can't run a water or sewer lines if people don't willing sell the property to the county. So imminent domain is critical."

But there's concern that these bodies could condemn land and sell it to private businesses for a profit. ACCOG agrees with tightening the restricts to a point. Lingle says "We feel that there is no constitutional amendment necessary to limit the activity of imminent domain, as long as it is limited to the elected body of the county."

Griffin says it's important for commissioners to agree on these and other key issues and present a unified front at the state capital to get what's best for counties. 

County commissioners from Baker, Terrell, Dougherty, Miller, Worth, and several other counties attended the meeting today.

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