Walker County Frustrations - And Response (5)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hello Congressman Tarvin, 

My name is Jim Hill, a resident of Rossville.  I have concerns which many residents of the county have also expressed.  We are one of the last in the nation when it comes to local leadership.  Meaning we are represented by a sole commissioner compared to a full commission with three or five commissioners.  This has led to what we consider an abuse of power by our local sole commissioner Bebe Heiskell. 

She has made bad decisions which has left the county in debt beyond belief of a reasonable person.  She has poured our tax dollars into her personal pet project called Mountain Cove Farms.  This farm has lost taxpayer dollars year after year.  The only reason it looks good is she moves money from the general funds into Mountain Cove Farms to cook the books.  We as citizens have had enough of this and demand a vote. 

She backs a hospital with taxpayer dollars knowing good and well the hospital is on a financial disaster.  What happened?  Hutcheson goes bankrupt.  Then she said we were either giving the ambulance service to the hospital or selling it to the hospital, but she would never say which.  Now that deal has been quietly pulled. 

Many of our citizens have noticed that it's the sole commissioners decision who to appoint to the Walker County Water and Sewerage board.  Guess who she appointed as the board chairman?  Yes, she appointed herself.  Just another abuse and grab of power in the county. 

I personally have asked since the summer of 2014 when Wilson Road would be repaired.  First it was "in the Spring", which would have been the spring of 2015.  That has come and gone.  So I asked again.  This time the answer was that she is working with GDOT about the repairs.  That is a total lie.  I contacted GDOT about the said repairs and was told that Wilson is a local road and it's up to the county for repairs.  GDOT did say they had funds which if the county asks can assist in repairs, but the repairs are done by the county. 

Enough is enough.  The citizens know the only way we can change from a sole commissioner with no accountability to a three or five commission seat is for you and our local Senator Jeff Mullis to bring this before the State.  When will this be done and when can we expect to vote?   

I look forward to your answer. 

Jim Hill

***

I totally agree with Jim Hill on his article about Walker County. I too, live in Walker County (Flintstone,) and it is a problem that we are run by a one-person commissioner.

 

It seems because of  mis-managed money we are having to pay more taxes and everything else, including our water has been going up drastically. Now I know why our water is a lot higher since she is board chairman. My water bill has gone from June ($47.26) to August ($84.20). I have made several telephone calls to their office to no avail. They first tell you that you probably have a leak somewhere. Well, my husband has been under our house several times and there is no leak. He has checked the outside meter and it is not moving at all. (They tell you it will be moving if no water is running in your home, if there is a leak). Well, we finally called a plumbing company and paid for them to come out, and they say there is no  leak. I have told the people at the water company this and still they are not willing to check it out. If they come out, and there is nothing wrong then we will be charged $52 for their time. If we want a written report to see when the “peak” time is, then you will be charged $25 for the report. I asked for the manager there and was informed she was on vacation, but that she would tell me the same thing. P.S. we don’t have a sprinkler system and we don’t water the lawn. There are just the two of us that live in the home and we work all day, so thus we are not running water at all during the day.

 

My husband is trustee at our church in Flintstone, and they called him because the water bill for a small church was $200. We meet about three hours on Sunday morning. No Sunday night services. We have had the meter checked at the church, and it is not moving either. So apparently, no leak there either. So the bottom line is, they can do basically do anything they want and we either pay or have our water turned off. 

 

Charlotte Page

 

* * *

I, too, am a resident of Walker County and I am greatly disturbed by the mounting financial obligations our sole commissioner (SC) has placed on the backs of we, the residents.  If you look at the last seven years there has been poor financial management of Walker County and the people making these decisions are a small group including the SC that seem to think their views are lock step in line with the views of the citizens. I am willing to state publicly they are not mine and not of our citizens.

 ·         SC has invested and continued to support without asking our citizens their opinion in poor choices (ex. Mountain Cove).  Having public meetings when the majority of the citizens are working is subversive.

·         SC has not owned up to county obligations – ex. Library funding to complete construction.  The library should have been a high priority as this is a benefit to the citizens, where we can see our money working for us.

·         SC has started a cyclical pattern of borrowing to pay off and refinance existing debt and to meet our basic county obligations, and we have ended up with more debt and obligations – this is opposite of being financially responsible.  To me it's like teenagers as they become adults and begin using credit cards, loans, title loans, etc. to keep their lifestyle up and have more stuff, ending up in a mess.  We should demand sound fiscal management of our county.

·         SC has poorly managed/overseen our development incurring EPA fines, major overruns of projects, etc.  By allowing the same folks to keep working and not being accountable for their poor choices is not a sign of a good Leader but someone that is not keeping an eye on her flock nor holding them accountable.

·         SC has over-marketed her decisions in the more recent past trying to gather support (ex. ambulance service, more loans for the county)  If is it the right and sound decision, it will market itself.  This practice of over-marketing is a huge flag.

·         SC is now going to put up our county assets as collateral, and when this fancy financing goes to pieces Walker County stands to lose our assets.  We should be protecting our assets (if we like and support them or not) not leverage them.

 Lessons learned and accountability should have taught us years ago to turn these trends around, but with the management of this county in the hands of a select group of people, including the SC we are only digger our hole deeper.  Clearly their choices are not optimal and we are trending the wrong way.  Part of being a great leader is knowing when you are no longer effective, realize that and step down for the betterment of the whole, in this case Walker County.

 I urge all the county residents to do the research themselves and make their own decisions prior to the next election and to also communicate loudly with our county and state leadership urging change.  Part of a democratic society is to elect representatives that will honor the views of the citizens they represent.  It also allows for a continuum of change in that representation by having multiple voices or frequent change in office, not one person creating a career out of the role.

 ·         Walker County is challenged as we don’t have the retail/commercial opportunities as neighboring Catoosa County, so we need to be wise in our development and investment. In doing so we can proposer. We have so many missed opportunities.

·         We need a 3- or 5-person county commission – no longer one.  We need our state representatives to join in this change.

·         We need proper representation by the citizens on the various boards, not our SC being that one person across all the boards (or her select few representatives that have filled these positions).  Currently we have the same folks influencing all the boards to their one vision which is not working for our county.

·         We need sound fiscal management of our county with a plan to reduce and eliminate our debt and to run a balanced budget while being sensitive to taxation.

·         We need to divest the bad county investments, and only invest in those that promise a proper ROI for the county in regards to revenue, jobs or for the enjoyment of the county citizen

·         Most of all we need old-fashioned accountability

Would you run your personal household this way? No.  We should not allow our county to be run this way either.

Walker County, Georgia is very close to becoming the next Detroit.

Leslie Ward

* * *
 
I am a resident of Walker County and am very frustrated that my taxes keep going up year after year after year.
 
We the residents and constituents have asked for a county commission that is for the people and by the people.  Not for Bebe and by Bebe.  I don't vote for her and I don't want her telling me what is good for me when all she thinks is good for me is higher taxes.
 
We now have no hospital to service the tri-counties of North Georgia, we have no ambulance service in Walker County, but yet, because of her poor mismanagement and bad decisions, I have to have my taxes raised to pay....when does the insanity stop?
 
We have asked for a panel of commissioners - one from each area of designation for Walker County.  I see it as having a rep for Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga, Flintstone, Rossville, South Lookout Mountain, etc., a panel that is represented by the people, not by someone who has no clue.
 
I can assure you when it is time to vote again, my choice will be a write in vote.  It will be "Anyone but Bebe."
 
Please listen to the people.  We don't want you, we don't need you, especially your kind of "commission" work.  There is the door, please see your way out before digging us in any deeper. 

 Trudi Burner

* * *

Back the wagon up. All the frustrations expressed above are fine but to the citizens of Walker County - does the number 64 mean anything to you? Sixty-four percent is the property tax increase last year for us. What county have you ever seen around us have a 64 percent increase? And now on top of that we get to fund another increase this year of 13 percent? What's wrong with this picture?

A 77 percent increase in our taxes in two years is very wrong. I hate to point a finger at any one person, but in a county with only one commissioner who else is there to share the blame with? As others have mentioned much better than I, how many other counties in Georgia have only one commissioner? How much representation does one of the largest counties in Georgia need? 

 
On to another matter that is of great concern to me. Why was our county in the restaurant business? Is this fair to the independent restaurant owners who live or die off their profits to have to compete with a county-funded restaurant in the Mountain Cove Farm? Did our sole Commissioner spend $800,000 of taxpayer money trying to run a restaurant in the far end of this county? She did. 
Why don't someone ask Ms. Heiskell what her qualifications are? I understand she was the secretary for a past sole commissioner. Should a person running a large county not have some kind of education past high school? Ask the Commissioner what she thinks about term limits. Is 15 years enough time to make the county prosperous? If you think a 77 percent increase in your property taxes in the last two years is ok, then we will have to disagree.
 
Someone please ask Bebe if she would support the citizens voting for a sole or multi-commissioner form of government? Why would she not want the citizens to vote on that issue?
 
How can Ms. Heiskell take a $150,000 salary, then appoint herself over the Water Board and make another $25,000 a year and this county is now borrowing $15.2 million to borrow itself out of debt? What other salary does she receive by appointing herself to other positions?
 
Fifteen years is long enough for any one person to be in an elected office. I'm tired of so-called politicians who say they represent the majority taking us for granted and think they should be the ultimate voice for life.
 
Bebe, why don't we consider paying you based on the profitability of the county from now on? Give up your salaried positions until you put this county in the black?
 
Roger Myers

* * *

I would love to hear from Mr. Tarver, Mr. Mullis and Mr, Deffenbaugh about the fiscal and physical condition of Walker County. Why won't our elected area congressman, reps, senate respond to our questions about this.

How can we get them, or even one of them, to have a town hall type meeting where they address concerned citizens questions about the state of Walker county. And if that could happen, please don't do like Bebe and have it at 3 in the afternoon. Most people work and cannot attend a 3 pm meeting. Pretty sure it is done at that time for a reason. Does not want a crowd.
Mr, Tarver, Mr. Deffenbaugh and Mr. Mullis have been given legimate petitions where thousands of Walker County residents are asking to just put on the ballot this simple question: Do you favor having more that one county commissioner? And yet, no one even responds to that. Let the taxpayers vote on it. 
It is time for elected congressman Mr. Tarver, State Rep John Deffenbaugh and state Sen. Jeff Mullis to answer our questions. You are paid by us, the tax payers, and we need you to represent us. So why can't you put it on the ballot for a vote? If you can't do that, then there is a serious problem somewhere.
There are a lot of fed up people in Walker county that are ready for change. I just hope it isn't too late and that we are buried with debt for the rest of our lives.
Jennifer Connors


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