Pickens County is at a crossroads


What just happened in Pickens County will become more commonplace. Two small schools were shut down and the students moved to other area schools. This was a total failure in government and leadership. Not because of those who voted to close them, but because of those who opposed the move, but couldn’t provide a working alternative. In fact, their previous inactions led directly to the closings.

The current makeup of the school board and county council is destroying the county. It has been proven that we are undertaxed, have more ability to pay and are lacking in several areas that are inexcusable for a county our size. Every year we give up something: teachers, schools, technology, supplies, even building maintenance. It’s always a battle to “eliminate the excess waste,” but yet it always means losing something. We don’t lose a new budget item proposed, we actually give up assets.

Economic development lacks horribly. Few announcements in over four years and twice singled out by the Governor and the Secretary of Commerce for sitting on the sidelines while the other 45 counties in our state grow. We can’t survive without growing our tax base. Ironically, more company relocations, and the resulting effect, would provide a larger tax base, making it unnecessary to talk about raising taxes.

Do you want your kids to live and work in Pickens County? That can’t happen without more economic development. The majority of new jobs and company announcements are from companies already here.

The advantages of business investment far outweigh the incentives that exist to entice them here and without them, there are no jobs. Without jobs, families work outside our communities which results in a shrinking tax base, a lower mil value, and fewer dollars to pay for the public works our communities rely on.

How about quality of life – things like public recreation? We need a council that supports the Doodle Trail and provides recreational opportunities for all ages. How can you look at the Swamp Rabbit Trail and not want the same for our county?

The list of problems this county council has created is long.

I ask that you seriously evaluate the candidates for office. Saying that they won’t raise your taxes is no longer acceptable. They need to pledge to provide the tools, both financial and functional, to provide quality of life to our citizens, skilled jobs for your children and controlled quality economic growth through smart investment. This creates a long-term, financially sustainable model county.

I believe in economic development, quality public education, quality of life, good paying jobs, families living close by and a chance for every child to be extraordinary. This doesn’t come from grant money or Grover Norquist pledges. This comes from people who value children, and wish them a brighter future than we had.

It’s time for fresh ideas and progress. If you’re not moving forward you are either standing still or going backwards. Vote for a positive change. Your grandchildren will thank you.

Tom O’Hanlan

Liberty

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