January 10, 2006
One county, one government. That's why more than a hundred unhappy people gathered in Appling Tuesday night. Their wuestion is how combining unincorporated Columbia County will affect them.
They came to the Appling courtroom to learn more about how consolidation will affect them. County officials and commissioners say one government means more money for better services. But Tom Stafford worries consolidation equals big government.
"I don't like government in general, and the less government I have, the better," Stafford said.
Management Services Director Todd Glover says that's not the case.
"What we're actually trying to do is preserve what we have right now," Glover said.
He says consolidation will bring in more businesses and help the area grow.
"It does help in recruiting industries to our area," Glover said.
Something he says will benefit the ninety percent of people who live in unincorporated areas...like Martinez, Evans, and Appling.
People in the Columbia County government say consolidation will help road improvements and other projects. But, legislators will have to pass a bill before those changes ever make the ballot.
Representative Barry Fleming says it may not happen during this session.
"At this time the county commissioners in Columbia County have not given to the delegation any proposal for consideration," Fleming said.
Columbia County Democratic Party Chairman Scott Nichols wants people to have a choice this November on whether to join the other four consolidated governments in the state.
"Please contact your delegation," Nichols said.
Bill Quattlebaum will vote no.
"I think if it ain't broke, don't fix it," Quattlebaum said.
"It’s not broke now, but we need to make sure we're preparing and giving ourselves flexibility in the future and deal with problems we may encounter in the future," Glover said.
In the packed courtroom, and across the county, the verdict is still up in the air. This was the second of three informational meetings that commissioners say could help legislators make their decision. The next and last one will be on the 24th of this month at 6 in Evans.