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April 14, 2007

DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN?

Do you know this man? You might think he is your State Senator, but he does not know you. He refuses to return telephone calls, emails, or acknowledge he gets your correspondence. Sources say he even fails to return calls from County Commissioners and other Legislators. How could a mere "citizen and constituent" think they would rate any better? Some constituents have begun sending "letters to the editor" in their local paper about Senator Grant's lack of response to calls and emails.

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Letter To The Editor (Lake Oconee News, 4/6/07)

In the past year I have sent letters to State Senator Johnny Grant or called his office no fewer than 5 times in order to express my views and seek his input on matters of interest to me. I've twice spoken to staffers (one told me the senator was very busy and another told me she would make certain the senator was aware of my views), but never have I had a response from the senator. I would be interested in learning what Mr. Grant believes are his responsibilities to his constituents.

Robert A. Legg, 2851 Club Drive, Greensboro
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But Senator Grant has been busy this year promoting a bill affectionately known as the "Private Cities Bill." Senator Grant’s “Private Cities Bill” has progressed out of the State Senate and into the House. The House Committee approved both a constitutional amendment Senate Resolution 309) and companion legislation (Senate Bill 200) that would open the door to private cities in Georgia. Now these bills will be up for a vote on the House floor sometime next week.

The bills have drawn support from a lot of influential interests, especially developers. Grant seems to be perfectly willing, even eager, to give private business the power to tax through this controversial legislation. It would likely be a safe bet that developers have their calls and emails returned--probably very quickly.

SB 200 supposedly aids “rural builders.” The measure would allow county or city bonds to help cover infrastructure costs to build large, outlying subdivisions. What risk does the developer take he can pass on all costs plus a profit for himself to those that buy in to the development?

This bill authorizes local governments to approve the creation of districts to finance infrastructure. Special assessments would be levied upon properties within the district to repay tax-exempt bonds issued to finance infrastructure (e.g. roads, water, sewer, parks, libraries, public safety facilities, schools). Supposedly the financial burden a new development places on the county infrastructure would be paid by those buying into the development instead of the county taxpayers. The districts are created at the request of a petitioner, typically a developer. If approved, an independent board (made up of the developers) is established to oversee the financial management and infrastructure development within the district. The board assumes liability for any debt incurred and has limited taxing authority.

An APPOINTED BOARD, not elected officials, will oversee the financial management of the district and will have “limited” TAXING AUTHORITY. Now that’s true TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.

The power to impose taxes should be restricted to elected officials who can be held accountable by voters. Not by an appointed board which can include ALL developers!

The voters will ultimately be able to vote yea or nay at the polls since this would be a Constitutional Amendment, but before that happens, we can try to stop this legislation in the House. Please contact your State Rep and ask him/her to vote against this bill.

Time is of the essense; please do it today!

You can find names, telephone numbers, and addresses of all Legislators at www.legis.state.ga.us.

TWG
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