The decision Tuesday to spend another $19 million of Gwinnett County’s savings to pay for a 50 percent cost increase in the county’s new stadium was so straightforward, it didn’t require any public discussion or debate, county commissioners said.
The commission voted to spend the money as part of its consent agenda, a package of typically non-controversial items that on Tuesday included filling a vacancy on a golf commission, accepting the donation of dog food for the county animal shelter and spending $16.7 million to replace county transit buses.
Commissioners said the decision didn’t require public debate because there was little choice but to approve the money, without which project officials said they could not build the stadium currently coming out of the ground on Buford Drive near I-85 in Lawrenceville. The stadium will cost $59 million, up from an initial estimate of $40 million.
Yet, at least two citizens (Don Shaw and Lee Baker) attended the hearing who had something to say and were not permitted to voice their opposition.
But anyway, at least one commissioner feels your pain.
Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, who is known for keeping an eye on county spending, said he lost sleep over the decision. He said he even considered plowing over what has been built so far and converting the land to a county park.
But because the county has to have revenues to pay back the bonds, he said the only choice was to move forward and create a stellar ballpark.
“I felt it was the only thing we could do that was fiscally responsible, believe it or not,” he said. “I felt we had no other choice.”
Yeah, Beaudreau is a real pit bull when it comes to combating government waste.
He looks all broken-up, doesn’t he? As for keeping an eye on county spending, he seems to be more concerned about increasing taxes than cutting spending. This is from a March 28 Op-Ed that he wrote.
It is our job as commissioners to listen to input from our constituents and then make informed decisions as to the level of service desired by county citizens. It is clear that our citizens want more than merely the status quo. For the legislature to put us on a path where all local governments cannot even keep up with inflation in terms of service levels is probably unworkable in most, if not all, parts of Georgia. I can tell you for sure that it will hurt Gwinnett County.
While I may have only scratched the surface on some of the policy questions, the real point of my writing to you is to ask that you not do anything that strips away the decision-making capability of school boards, city councils and county commissioners. Do not cap our revenues or our ability to adjust millage rates. Please do not limit assessments to some artificial growth rate. Please do not enact some one-size-fits-all policy without first examining all the facts. Services are unfortunately not free, and we need to be able to respond to what is going on in our local areas.
Give me a break, Mike. You voted for this boondoogle. Don’t try and have it both ways. And please, stop describing yourself as a fiscal conservative. You’re an old-fashioned tax-and-spend liberal, embrace it.
Addendum: I forgot to mention that the Gwinnett Daily Post did not report the fact that the commissioners did not allow any discussion.