Written by Joene DePlancke
Gilmer County is actively pursuing contracting for a new County Pool and related
expenses. I am totally in support of a County Pool but NOT on the eve of a
recession. On March 6 th , at a Special Called Meeting to approve the design of the
pool in order to seek bids, I raised the question, “is this really the right time to
begin such a significant project?” I mentioned that companies and individuals
were already changing plans for travel and entertainment and that the County
should wait and see if we will be affected by events being caused by the
CoronaVirus. I stated we should not let happen what happened when we didn’t
adequately prepare for the financial crisis in 2008.
The Chairman pointed out that Gilmer County is in a better financial position than
it has been since 2008 or before. The County has 3.5 months or over $5 Million in
reserves. However, our bond payment is $4.2 Million which requires ALL of the
SPLOST receipts to make this payment. Even the best collection periods don’t
produce enough to make these payments. The County already collects 1.5 extra
mils of property tax from each landowner just to make these payments. So what
would happen if the current recession affects Gilmer County?
I asked the Chairman to reconsider the timing to build a new pool. We should
delay entering into a contract until we see the impact to Gilmer of reduced travel
and spending by our citizens as people stay home. And what if we have to cancel
the Apple Blossom Festival?
The County has put aside most of the money for the pool, but we may need that
money to pay the debts incurred years ago when they built things without taking
into account the looming recession. We are at that door again and instead of
hunkering down and holding on to any money we have, we are once again about
to embark on another spending spree while on the brink of another recession.