Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Jackson County

by Chuck Connors

By and large our county manager, Mr. Ken Westmoreland, has done a good job with our county’s proposed 2008 – 2009 fiscal budget. I do have some questions and comments relating to the budget and to the g
eneral state of Jackson County.

Why do we need an Economic Development Commission (EDC)?

Whatever happened to the $568,000.00 the EDC loaned the Jackson Development Commission (JDC)?

When are we going to have the audit that was promised over two years ago? Audits were not done in 2006 and 2007.

I understand this loan was supposed to be paid back in one year. That was six years ago!

Now, that loan would be worth (with interest) approximately $620,000.00. Where is the money?

If the EDC has not forgiven that loan and the JDC is now defunct, do the taxpayers have to pay the EDC that loan of $620,000.00 as is being rumored?

Some people have said we don’t really need a full time EDC director because in a small county like ours there isn’t enough interest or need.

An ad hoc committee, activated from time to time, could work more effectively and be more responsive to the taxpayers.

The EDC doesn’t need another county employee working for it. We already have some financial accountability with the county’s financial director also acting as the treasurer of the group.

On other issues:

Why is the county allowing the Army Corps of Engineers to deny due process to the citizens of Jackson County in the coming environmental disaster of the elitist compounds of “Webster Ridge” and “Riverrock (Legasus)?”

Does the Balsam Mountain ‘Preserve’ (Chaffin/Light) really believe that folks are taken in with the public relations stunt of a has-been golf professional brazenly opening one of his trout-killing courses on the anniversary (June 7, 2007) of the Scott’s Creek disaster? To paraphrase Charlie Daniels, “the eagle is flying low,” isn’t it?

This whole sad state of affairs has become a “Jacksongate” where the taxpayers get their pockets picked one more time by free-booting loose cannons. If the citizens of Jackson County aren’t getting the shaft from a herd of greedy developers, they’re getting it from our elected and appointed officials! I would strongly urge you, the Jackson County Commissioners, to take action now on the EDC/JDC fiasco, take a strong stand against re-building the dam on the BMP golf course and take immediate legal action to force the Army Corps of Engineers to hold a public hearing/public comment on the “Webster Ridge” debacle. These and other incidents have been “white elephants” on the taxpayers for too long. All we’re getting is a huge mess costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps millions) and destroying our county with no end in sight. Is anyone else waiting for positive leadership on these issues? Cut to the chase gentlemen and do it now.