This past year was one of the most difficult in Jackson County’s history. From high unemployment to business failures to struggling local governments, it was a year that will not be remembered fondly by most people.
But even as we reflect on what transpired in 2009, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2010.
Here are some issues that need to be addressed during the upcoming year:
1. Stabilize the finances of the Jackson County School System with major spending cuts. As has been previously discussed, the JCSS was in the hole financially in 2009. The reason for that is that system leaders have built a high cost structure and were slow to react to the economic downturn. It may get worse in 2010 unless the system takes some major action to cut its costs. Taxpayers in the county are threatening an uprising over high property appraisals, especially in the West Jackson area. If this movement results in lower appraisals in 2010, the school system’s income could suffer. Cut now.
2. Make leadership changes in the JCSS. Related to No. 1 above is the real need to get some new blood into the school system’s leadership. When local elections roll around in the summer of 2010, BOE incumbents need to face opposition.
3. Wrap up Pendergrass investigation. Although the District Attorney limited the GBI probe into the City of Pendergrass more than it should be, whatever is done needs to be wrapped up quickly. If there was abuse of public money, that should be dealt with. Jackson County doesn’t need another lengthy on-and-off investigation as was done with the Darren Glenn mess.
4. Hoschton needs to decide its future. The town has been struggling for several years from poor leadership and fiscal mismanagement. It does not have the financial resources to do everything and like many small towns, has taken a hit during the economic downturn. The town has put off making tough decisions for years; now with a new mayor and council, maybe that won’t be delayed any longer.
5. Finalize the county’s comprehensive plan update. We question the real value of so many meetings and so much effort being put into a comprehensive plan that will only sit on a shelf once is it done. While in theory it’s a good idea — plan for the county’s future — in reality local governments often do what they want to do anyway regardless of what the plan calls for. Let’s get this done and move on.
Spot on. I think every government agency, especially the school system, should drastically find ways to cut spending in the year ahead. Every household and business in the county has had to do the same. 'Bought time the government did what the rest of us are doing.