Why is Aragon still a city?
This is a saying many of us have heard all our lives, it goes like this, “if only hindsight were 20-20.” What does this saying mean? This is a saying which means that “It’s easy to know the right thing to do after something has happened, but it’s hard to predict the future.”
Let me explain why I opened with this statement. First, “hindsight” means “thinking about things after they’ve happened.”
I now look back over the past several years to when my wife and I moved into the City of Aragon in September, 2000. We found a nice home, in a nice subdivision, in the City of Aragon, and settled in, seeking to become involved in our new community.
Following our move to Aragon in September, 2000, we joined the Rockmart United Methodist Church by transferring our membership from a Methodist Church in Duluth.
The following Sunday, I was singing in the choir. Don Tate, who sang in the choir next to me, took it upon himself to begin introducing me to people all over Polk County.
I owe him a debt of gratitude for his gesture. I joined the Polk County Chamber of Commerce, and through Karolyn Hutcheson became involved in several committees, one being the Homespun Committee, whereby I became the Master of Ceremonies of that annual event, and remained the emcee for eight years. I became Chairman of the Tourism Committee, and later became Chairman of the Polk County Chamber.
Being retired, I had the time to get involved in many other organizations, many of you know my involvement, so I shan’t bore you further with details.
However, I was, and still am proud of my outreach to the Community.
Now, I will pose the question of “why is Aragon still a city?”
After living here for a short period of time and paying my first, of many annual City Property Tax Bills, I began questioning why we were a City.
We all know the Aragon Mill was the initial reason for the Mill Village to become a City.
In essence, it was the wishes of the Mill leaders. Everyone who has ever lived in Aragon, or worked at the Mill has a history, and a legacy of which to be proud. Let’s leap forward to the 21st Century. In 2011, I was elected Mayor of Aragon. When I was sworn in on January 2, 2012, unbeknownst to me the City was over $350,000 in debt.
Many bills were going unpaid, and many citizens were ignoring their tax and garbage bills. In fact one former elected official, and two serving members of the City Council were delinquent in their taxes.
Theft was rampant, more than one employee, including Department Heads, were caught stealing from the city, including two (2) police officers. The City owed over $150,000 to the Georgia Department of Revenue, and the Internal Revenue Service. The City was on the verge of insolvency.
Again, not to bore you, but over the next four years, I did everything lawful and within my powers to keep the city from becoming insolvent, and having to surrender its Charter.
I’m proud of that feat, however, I often ask myself, would I do it again, the answer is always yes. Yet, in retrospect, and hindsight being 20-20 I look back to 2000 when I ask myself, and said to my wife and others, “why is Aragon a city?”
The ONLY service it provides to its taxpayers is an occasional “drive through” by the Police Department. Aragon is the highest taxed municipality in Polk County. Aragon citizens need to ask themselves, is this what we want?
Taxpayers in the Frettiesburg subdivision said “no” to that question, and sought to de-annex. The County approved their petition, however, the Aragon City Council denied it, and our State Legislators, who could have granted it, chose to ignore it.
We have mailed our 2018 City of Aragon Property taxes of over $750.00. My wife and I had a discussion recently, and I said to her, “do you realize the only service we get for our tax dollars is an occasional drive through by the Aragon Police.”
Unbelievable! People, here is how our tax dollars are being used: To pay the salaries of ALL city employees, the city’s share for their Social Security, State unemployment, we pay for their retirement plan, their health, life and Workers Compensation insurance, paid holidays, paid vacations, and overtime.
We pay for the fuel and maintenance of all rolling stock, the cost of maintenance and fuel for the lawn mowers, used to cut city grass, particularly at the underused recreation sites. We pay for all the buildings operations and maintenance cost, including, but not limited to, water, gas, electricity, pest control, property and liability insurance. For all this, we get an occasional drive through by the Police Department.
We pay the city for once a week refuse pickup and we pay for our street lighting. Its simple, ask yourself, is it worth it for you to pay for the privilege of a few who want to continue to be called a City? We love Polk County, and we love where we reside, however, along with many other Aragonians we think its time the City leaders consider surrendering the City Charter.
If city leaders truly care for their constituents, they would put the question on the ballot for a vote.
God Bless America!