(Note: The following is the first of two columns from Bulloch County resident Ruth Green outlining her concerns with some county government issues. The next column will run in Sunday's Statesboro Herald.)
Do you know what your Bulloch County government is doing?
Can you easily find information on the actions of Bulloch County government?
Bulloch County has helped underwrite funding for Georgia Southern University, a state institution governed by the Board of Regents, to buy properties at inflated prices and to enlarge seating at the football stadium, which, when smaller, was rarely filled.
Bulloch County pays millions of dollars for “industrial parks” while neither owning nor controlling them. The two industrial parks are owned the Bulloch County Development Authority with Bulloch County taxpayers paying the bills. Bulloch County pays the Bulloch County Development Authority $250,000 annually as well as $50,000 annually for space at the Chamber of Commerce to use as an office.
The Bulloch County Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce negotiated the contract with Great Dane with huge headlines in the Statesboro Herald promising 400 jobs, Quick Start skill classes developed and taught at Ogeechee Tech.
A local law firm wrote the contract stipulating a time table: Year 1, 100 jobs; year 2, 200 jobs; year 3, 250 jobs; year 4 and 5, 400 jobs.
The contract states jobs “from the community,” which could mean any distance that employees might get here to be employed. Wonder why nobody caught this loophole. Although the taxpayers of Bulloch County are providing tax breaks for employment, we are getting little for our money. We do not know the employee number as our commissioners nor county manager will ask the company — stating that is proprietary information.
As far as I know, Great Dane has not asked Ogeechee Tech to form or teach any Quick Start classes.
Bulloch County Commission meetings are posted on the internet at BullochCounty.net. Click on Commissioners, then agenda/minutes and you will find a row of dates. Click on the year you are interested in, then the meeting date you wish. The list does not offer any keywords about what was on a particular agenda. You might find the document on Google if you know the exact title; again, most don’t. You will find the designated meeting agenda. Somewhere near the bottom of the listing you will find “New Business”. The county manager is asked to present new business, he states items and approximate costs; then “any discussion” — commissioners only. I have not yet heard or read a discussion. Usually a commissioner makes a motion to accept then a second is made by another commissioner, then a vote — unanimously passed.
We taxpayers have no idea what they voted for and cannot at the time ask questions. I asked about these “items” later and was told by the clerk the commissioners each have a notebook available to each of them Friday prior to a commission meeting listing all the items to be presented.
I also learned these Items presented are written up in the minutes and posted on the internet two weeks later, when they have been approved at the next commissioners meeting. I found meetings with the Items with (Exhibit #———). Going back to the web page with “Search” at the top left, I typed in Exhibit # —— up came “No Information.” I then typed in just the number — again got “No Information.”
When a citizen cannot read, hear and see openly run government, when a citizen cannot find any information they feel they need answers to easily, when a citizen cannot ask an elected official questions and get intelligent and complicit answers; there need to be changes.
E. Ruth Green, PhD is a former professor at Georgia Southern University and a longtime resident of Bulloch County.