By Linton Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
With less than five weeks remaining before the 2018 general election, WSGC News concludes our series of interviews with the four candidates for local offices in Elbert County. Today we hear from Thomas Allgood, the Democratic candidate for chairman of the Elbert County Board of Commissioners. An interview with Allgood’s opponent, Republican Lee Vaughn, was featured in yesterday’s news broadcasts and Hometown Headlines.
Allgood, a former member of the Board of Commissioners, said the voters he has talked to are talking about the recent property tax revaluation, public funding for Elbert Memorial Hospital and discussions of a new spec building for economic development.
“The No. 1 thing that has the most people in Elbert County upset at the moment is the revaluation. I think about 600 people filed appeals. There’s probably 400-500 more that wishes they had. The homeowners got hit the most with the biggest increases. Some people’s taxes went up over $1,000, which is huge. The home ownership in Georgia have dropped about 1 percent a year for the last 15 years, so the numbers are really going the wrong way. As taxes increase and cost of ownership increases, I think we’re going to see that number fall even further. The state of Georgia back in 1937 put in a homestead exemption of $5,000 off your fair market value. Eighty-one years later, it’s still $5,000 off your fair market value. Homeowners are carrying too large of a percentage of our property taxes, I think. They need some help. In 81 years, that number should have gone up some. The No. 1 thing I can do to help people is the thing I found out about, which was the homestead freeze that 36 counties have passed. It gives voters a chance to participate and it’ll freeze the values at the current level. It’s really a cap. The values can go down, but they can’t go above the frozen level.
“The next thing that people are most upset about is the hospital. A number of people complained to me that they didn’t get a chance to vote on the 2.5 mills that the board gave the hospital. I feel like voters out to have more say in their government. I’m for the hospital, I’m for keeping it. The hospital is cornerstone of our economy. It’s a draw. I hope we’ll become more of a retirement community. I hope a lot of our young people that left will come back here, and having a good hospital is important in that, too. The accountability is lacking with the hospital right now. The board picked a member to be on the hospital authority, and his job was to report back to the board, and he hasn’t done that. I think if I’m elected, myself and the new board will strongly encourage him to keep us updated. It’s not right to be giving away taxpayers’ money and not account for it. I would hope we can start the process of helping fund the hospital with a sales tax. It’s going to take years, but to me the sales tax is the fair tax. Everybody pays a little along, and you don’t end up with a huge bill at the end of the year.
“The next thing that the taxpayers are upset about is the spec building. Rightfully so, they’re upset about it because in 2014 they voted down a spec building on the ballot, almost 2 to 1, yet four years later the county, on its own – without the city and without Bowman – they’re pushing for the spec building. Before we even look at a spec building, we need to start pulling together the city, Bowman and the county. Right now Hailo is down to less than 10 people. We may end up having a spec building there. The other building on the Calhoun Falls Highway is empty. And one more thing, there’s going to be at least one new board member next year, so I urge the Board of Commissioners to hold off and wait for the new board to come on.
“The landfill, it’s not as big an issue now. It seems to have fallen off the radar. I’m very much against the landfill. Even though Sweet City is local people, they could sell it in one day to Waste Management, a $37 billion a year company. I’ve seen commissioners change their vote for as little as $150. A $37 billion company can buy most anybody. That’s my real concern besides the pollution, traffic and other concerns.”
In his campaign, Allgood touts his desire for improved relations between Elbert County and the cities of Elberton and Bowman and his availability to work full time for the county.
“I can work with the city. On economic development, the city and the county and Bowman, we’ve all got to work together. We’re competing with surrounding counties, and they’re working together. Another reason to consider me is I’m retired, and my wife says I need a job. So I’ll be a full-time employee and not a part-time employee. I won’t take the benefits or the insurance. That’ll save about $50,000 over four years. I have received no contributions. I owe no favors to anyone. I’ll work for all the people, and I’ll work to let the voters have more say. I really think come Nov. 6, we’re going to see a lot of voters get out and show their displeasure with the way things have been going. I’d appreciate your consideration.”
Voters will have the opportunity to hear directly from candidates for chairman of the Elbert County Board of Commissioners and the District 2 commissioner’s post at Elberton’s Rock Gym on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at a political forum co-sponsored by WSGC Radio and The Elberton Star.
Beginning at 6 p.m., the candidates will present their campaign platforms and answer questions submitted in advance by the public. To submit questions for the candidates, send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org no later than noon Monday, Oct. 8.
The forum is open to the public and will be broadcast live on 105.3 WSGC, online at wsgcradio.com and on mobile devices with the Tune In radio app.
Tuesday, Oct. 9, is also the last day to register to vote or update voter registrations for the Nov. 6 general election. Early voting will begin Monday, Oct. 15.