Why is Aragon still a city?

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - KEN SUFFERIDGE Ken Suf­fridge is a for­mer mayor of Aragon

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!

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