District 3 candidates weigh in
Hopefuls own businesses, differ on economic issues
Democrat Nancy Schulz and Republican Keith Mitcham have a lot in common — they are both the owners of small businesses in District 3 and both stress the importance of fiscal responsibility — but they differ in their views on how to bring more business to Newton County.
Mitcham and Schulz are both seeking to take over District 3 Commissioner Ester Fleming’s seat on the Board of Commissioners when he vacates it at the end of the year.
While Schulz, the co-owner of The Oaks Golf Course, emphasizes the need for Newton County to become more friendly and pro-business, Mitcham, the owner of the Mitcham Cattle Company, a 1,000 cattle stocker operation, said he thinks District 3 needs to guard against becoming like Rockdale County with its unrestrained commercial development.
The two candidates’ civic organization memberships also shed light on the differing views they each have of what is good development for the county. Schulz has been endorsed by the Newton County Homebuilders Association and is an active member of the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce. Mitcham serves on the Newton County Farm Bureau’s board of directors and is chairman of the bureau’s legislative committee.
“We need to embrace businesses that want to locate here,” Schulz said, adding that the county could do more
The timeline for the completion of all critical projects is 2020. The CTP is expected to guide the county through 2030.
The CTP has 35 general roadway capacity projects, including all of the critical need projects, with a total price tag of $848.4 million. There are also four bridge rehabilitation and bridge replacement projects in the plan with a total price tag of $19.9 million.
Alternative transportation did receive attention in the CTP. Transit facilities and transit equipment would receive $8.1 million and bike and pedestrian facilities would receive $900,000 under the plan’s guidelines.
One project in the plan is a transit-express bus service to Atlanta. The project would call for the expansion of the Park and Ride lot, located near the entrance to Interstate 20 exit 90 on U.S. Highway 278, as well as the addition of a new Park and Ride lot at the planned West Covington Bypass Interchange.
The express bus would offer a service similar to that currently offered by the Xpress bus service in Rockdale County.
Much of the funding for these projects is expected to come from the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is in the middle of a serious budget crunch that has resulted in the postponement and/or scrapping of billions of dollars in road projects across the state. Local funding for projects in the CTP will also come from impact fees and the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
In January, the Georgia General Assembly is expected to once again take up a transportation funding proposal — the Transportation Local Option Sales Tax— whichwould allow counties to band together in districts to approve the setting of a special tax to fund transportation projects in their regions. The T-LOST narrowly failed this year for lack of approval in the House of Representatives.
County Chairman Aaron Varner said he plans to hold a meeting after the November election with all of the newly elected county officials to discuss the CTP and which projects they will pursue and in which order.
“All we’re doing is approving the concept,” said Varner of the CTP’s Tuesday approval.
In writing the CTP, URS held several meetings throughout the last year for community stakeholders, elected officials and the public to seek their input and to provide them with updates on the plan.
URS also relied on technical data, land use and development trends, regional travel demand model assessments and roadway policies.