Our thoughts A win for res­i­dents

The Covington News - - OPINION -

Five may­ors and sev­eral county man­agers gath­ered around a ta­ble Tues­day and asked for one item.

There were not five dif­fer­ent voices; there was just one, united front in a ne­go­ti­a­tion with the county about how much of the po­ten­tial Spe­cial Pur­pose Lo­cal Op­tion Sales Tax should be al­lo­cated the county’s mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

The county ne­go­ti­ated back, and the two sides ap­peared to set­tle some­where in the mid­dle. But that wasn’t the real take-away.

If vot­ers elect to pass the SPLOST vote when it comes on the bal­lot on March 14, 2017, we would as­sume that the money raised from 2017 through 2022 will ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity — the en­tire com­mu­nity, res­i­dents of un­in­cor­po­rated New­ton County and the cities.

From what we’ve been hear­ing — in­clud­ing a sen­ti­ment brought up dur­ing Tues­day’s SPLOST work ses­sion — con­fi­dence in the SPLOST be­ing passed is not cur­rently high.

We see Tues­day’s meet­ing as a step to­ward a lit­tle more faith in those who choose how our tax money is spent.

There was no name-call­ing as ne­go­ti­a­tions took place, there were no po­lit­i­cal games played. There were two sides of a de­bate.

The county wants to use the money for roads, dis­trict­spe­cific pro­jects and debt re­duc­tion. The mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties want to help their in­fra­struc­ture, im­prove their cit­i­zen’s way of life and con­tinue to ex­pand on some of the things such as trails in Mans­field, the Square in Cov­ing­ton and com­merce based on the Yel­low River in Por­terdale.

If done cor­rectly, all of these pro­jects could help out the en­tire com­mu­nity.

It was that a thought that was re­it­er­ated by many of the may­ors, city man­agers, com­mis­sion­ers and the county chair Tues­day night, a thought that gar­nered a lit­tle more faith in the lo­cal govern­ing bod­ies’ de­ci­sion mak­ing.

An­other bright spot from Tues­day was the fact that a group of elected of­fi­cials showed how work­ing to­gether can equal good things.

In pre­sent­ing a united front, the may­ors were able to demon­strate a united show of con­fi­dence and raise the amount of money each will be al­lo­cated from this po­ten­tial SPLOST.

They had an idea of what they wanted and a spe­cific num­ber in hand be­fore they walked into the meet­ing at the New­ton County His­toric Court­house. This came af­ter a se­ries of meet­ings be­tween the five may­ors and the city man­agers.

That com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key. Each city may not want the ex­act same thing for its ci­ti­zens, but they know that each res­i­dent of New­ton County is vi­tal to their city’s suc­cess.

Meet­ings be­tween the may­ors are not some­thing that is new. They meet and com­mu­ni­cate at least once a quar­ter and have been do­ing so for years. Many also gather to­gether as part of the board of direc­tors of the group New­ton County To­mor­row. The com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the lead­ers of Cov­ing­ton, Ox­ford, Por­terdale, Mans­field and New­born al­lows for each of them to learn more about the growth and the trou­bles of each cor­ner of the county.

The ben­e­fit of that com­mu­ni­ca­tion was on full dis­play this week.

Ox­ford Mayor Jerry Rose­berry spoke up first, Por­terdale Ar­line Chap­man cham­pi­oned her city and Cov­ing­ton Mayor Ron­nie John­ston backed up his fel­low may­ors as they worked to ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity. And the com­mu­nity stands to ben­e­fit. Not only from the fact that the cities will be al­lot­ted a lit­tle more of the SPLOST money, but also from the ex­am­ple of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Com­mis­sion­ers Nancy Schulz and Lanier Sims both in­quired about the may­ors’ meet­ings. The may­ors an­swered by ex­tend­ing an in­vi­ta­tion open to the en­tire com­mis­sion. County Man­ager Lloyd Kerr also was in­vited to meet­ings be­tween city man­agers.

If the in­vi­ta­tions are ac­cepted, more con­struc­tive, prob­lem-solv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion will take place be­tween our com­mu­nity’s elected of­fi­cials.

That in­deed, would be a win. A win for New­ton County res­i­dents.

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