Early voting has already begun or citizens can vote on May 22 on bond referendums being sought by our two local governments: the city of Conyers and Rockdale County. Frustration has been experienced with both because of confusion or anger over the audacity of the request. Please, do not go to the polls without understanding the differences pertaining to the process each entity took to reach their decision to seek approval, plans for the funds, and yes, the final cost for each.
The city of Conyers began their process three years ago when they understood the need was approaching. So, they hired a firm to conduct a needs assessment to determine the validity of the needs (government administration 101). Two years ago, they hired an architect to design a facility based on the report. With an architectural drawing, they could explore appropriate sites that would most benefit Olde Town.
Conversely, Rockdale County decides within the last six months to ask for a bond. All we have heard is inconsistent excuses: we need one; we have needed one for a while; we have some tiles that need replaced; and then they opined it was a security risk. We just want to know where is the needs assessment report. They claim to have one, but it has never been produced, although they may be scrambling to generate one after the fact. If you ask for the plans, they point to a rendering, not an architectural drawing. And they talk about helping Olde Town, but there is already a courthouse and this just adds a new, expensive courthouse in the same spot.
However, the biggest difference is the amount of money being requested. The city of Conyers is asking for a reasonable $13 million and can tell you where every dime will be spent. The county is asking for an unreasonable $140 million and can only advise of vague categories for spending the funds. They even have an $11 million contingency fund … being uncertain of the need to the point of $11 million!
Another critical difference is the city of Conyers has an excellent “AAA” bond rating. This means the city has responsibly maintained its credit rating and allows the city to not exceed a 3.5 percent interest rate. However, the county has an unfavorable “Aa” rating, which is not so good. That is one reason they will have challenges getting a bond with an interest rate less than 6 percent. An interest rate of 6 percent on $140 million is catastrophic and could cost taxpayers more than $300 million.
The last difference is the leadership of the city of Conyers compared to the Rockdale County. The city’s leaders have done their homework and can answer every question with factual knowledge. The county’s leadership cannot because they have not done their homework and have to respond with generalities or blame someone else. Currently, they are blaming the judges.
Again, there does not need to be any confusion because the city of Conyers can demonstrate transparency since they have exhibited due diligence and are able to answer every question. The county has been less transparent, ill-prepared, and wants you to “just trust them” and give them a $140 million blank check.
The answer is simple … support good leadership and vote “yes” for the city of Conyers bond. Don’t support negligent leadership and vote “no” for the Rockdale County bond.
John W. Bowers