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Douglas: Fiscal madness needs to end now
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The people of Newton County and the five cities located here have suffered dramatically during this great recession that seems to have no end.

We were told by the federal government that if we would just help spend nearly a trillion dollars that we didn't have to "stimulate the economy," we would be on the road to recovery by now and all would be well.

It wasn't true.

Gas prices that are a full $2 higher per gallon than they were at the end of 2008 have forced deep cuts in personal budgets. The incredible housing market this county experienced for about 12 years is long gone, some say forever.
There is no end in sight to the economic squeeze.

However, government has one great advantage over personal or business finances when times get tough: It can just demand more money.

And if there is one thing government does efficiently, it is take in money from those who have earned it.

Actions of the federal government are legendary. But we don't have to look all the way to Washington to find hands in our pockets. There are plenty of examples right here at home of government plans to raid your wallets to take what they want to finance their schemes and plans.

Where to begin?

Newton County Commission Chairman Kathy Morgan wants property taxes to rise in the county. Falling home values and foreclosures have cut revenue to the county and with vitally important new parks to operate, and a crucial new low-income housing project to finance, among other projects, the county has to have more money.
The Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority raised rates, too.

Not a problem, they will just do what government does best and pass it along to those who actually earn a living. After all, it's a monopoly and residents have no where else to go.

With eager anticipation, the cities and county just got their lists mostly approved for the proposed transportation tax coming our way next year.

In July 2012, the state will ask you to approve a new one-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects.
The current state budget of $18.5 billion apparently isn't big enough to cover transportation so more money is "needed." There will be 12 regional votes in the state, Newton County being part of the Northeast Georgia region. It really doesn't matter how our people vote because if the region as a whole votes yes, the tax is imposed on us all. Former Gov. Sonny Perdue refused to allow counties to "opt out" of the regions and go it alone.

Don't forget that the so- called "Bush Tax Cuts" ended on Dec. 31, 2010. It's anyone's guess as to what our federal income tax bills will look like at the end of this year. The Obama administration consistently refused to extend the lower taxes.

Finally, the city of Covington is planning to raise it's spending.

In spite of most of us cutting back, doing with less, paying more for everything, the mayor wants to increase spending by $3.6 million next year. That will include creating their own sign shop and a whole new office, "Public Communication Officer."

Covington Personnel Director Ronny Cowan said that they weren't doing a good job of talking about the city.
Perhaps we need to get rid of whoever wasn't doing a good job and try a replacement before we create a whole new department.

Maybe we could outsource the sign making too?

Where will this all stop?

It won't until we regain our fiscal sanity and finally get government officials who can actually say no to projects rather than getting stars in their eyes every time something flashy comes along.

This is fiscal madness and it has to stop very soon.

Former state Sen. John Douglas lives in Newton County. He can be reached at