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Is There Enough Money to Go Around?

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Essay title: Is There Enough Money to Go Around?

Is there enough money to go around?

CYNTHIA BLACK

In the past year Oconee County has been spending money frivolously. Each town within the county has installed new traffic lights with walk/no walk signs. This installation included putting sensors in the road to “tell” the lights when to change. Walhalla has installed a new public restroom. Seneca installed a rock wall introduction to town at a cost of $90,000. There is even talk of a new median in the center of downtown Walhalla. This median not only means more money being spent for tourism, but also a burden on the citizens of this town trying to get around. Although these are city expenditures, the county and city need to learn to work together to use the money more wisely. In March of 2004 the county hired a team of professionals to work up a master plan for infrastructure. In the Technical Support Sewer Document #4 it was stated, “Presently the county lacks both institutional and funding mechanisms for significant infrastructure development. Cities and County do not work together to address infrastructure needs.” The mission statement for Oconee County states that “the county will support economic and employment base. Oconee County will provide adequate infrastructure including roads, water, sewer, and solid waste.” There has been no indication that the county is following their mission since this report was published.

While the County is spending this money, plants are closing and putting citizens out of work. One of these employers was Dunlop Corporation. The company sold out and put over 350 people out of work. I personally had to go through a plant closing. I had worked for this employer for over 5 years. The owner decided he would make more money by selling the company off. The new owner took the operations to Connecticut and overseas. Over 50 employees were left unemployed. Yet, the county is more concerned with setting up the towns for tourism than setting up their infrastructure for industry. With several of the counties plants closing, where is the money going to come from to fund these indulgences? When people have no income, the counties tax base decreases. If the people have less money to spend, the county has less money to spend. The money for infrastructure is no longer available because the county has allowed the cities to spend it on other things.

What are we to do about the future? The county has had no significant industry growth since 1996. In that year they spent almost $10 million dollars on a sewer upgrade to no avail. The future of this county, our children, and our general way of life is at stake. Where will the young people of this community work if the county cannot bring in new job opportunities. They will have to move to more prosperous areas of the state and even the nation.

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