September 15, 2005
Right now they are unincorporated communities in Columbia County. But Evans and Martinez may become cities. Right now they have a lot of questions about what it means to consolidate.
This plan calls for them to join together as cities under the same Columbia County government. Karen Chrjapin is a manager at Postnet and a member of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. She has a lot of questions.
“I really would need more information about what consolidation would mean for us, what benefits we would get,” Karen said.
This is the same question that many are asking in Columbia County. Commission chairman Ron Cross says this is important for Columbia County to grow.
“Sooner or later, Columbia County needs to incorporate and consolidate to get the benefits extended to all other cities in the country,” Cross said.
Chairman Cross says these are the benefits: It puts Columbia County on the map and gives it more recognition, it gives them more revenue, more flexibility with how to spend SPLOST funds, and they will get more federal grants.
But Karen Chrjapin has some concerns.
“I know it’s unfortunate when you saw the word consolidation. You automatically think of Richmond County and the troubles they’ve had,” Karen said.
Another issue is Grovetown and Harlem. If this passes they won’t be able to expand past this boundary anymore. Grovetown and Harlem will both be landlocked.
But Karen says that when it is all said and done, she is behind whatever decision Columbia County makes.
“I believe we have a good group of leaders in Columbia County, and I have confidence they’ll do the right thing and take it slow and wait for residents’ input before they make a decision,” Karen said.
People who live in Columbia County will have plenty of time to give their input. There will be a public meeting Tuesday morning at 7:30 at the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, there people can voice their concerns. The commission will vote that same evening on whether they should continue the consolidation. Certain fees that are attached to utilities will go directly to the consolidated government. They will be able to fund more projects without having to raise taxes. Right now, three other Georgia counties have consolidated government and thirteen others are looking to make the change.