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Our Thoughts: Lead, follow, or get out of the way
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The Newton County Board of Commissioners will meet Tuesday to discuss form of government and solid waste, including creation of a possible solid waste authority.

This is one of many complicated and hotly contested questions facing the county.

These are all questions that have been asked several times before. Decisions must be made. When the problems snowball into issues that hurt current decision-making, then it is already too late.

The topic of who should be running our county is one that has been up in the air since the county manager position was formed in 2011. Last year, the role of the county chair was changed due to a shifting of the duties of that position.

Last Tuesday, during the BOC’s last meeting of 2015, the question of who has what power came up again. Who should be signing checks, who should be hiring and firing, who gets the final call concerning county employees?

This public fight for power could have been avoided, and can be ended, with a clear definition of who’s who and a clearly defined organizational chart in Newton County’s charter. This county has more problems than can be solved in a few public meetings. We don’t have the time to add the problem of who is in charge of what.

This is not the time for just another work session. This is time to make decisions now in order to prevent problems in the future.

Another contested issue is who makes purchases during emergency situations, and what contracts should be bid out.
Again, these questions have been asked before. As a matter of fact they were asked by community members who volunteered their time to serve on a purchasing policy committee earlier this year. Recommendations were made and a policy was written. That policy has yet to be put in place by the board.

Not only is there the danger of wasting the committee member’s times and alienating some of this county’s most concerned citizens, but also wasting limited resources if finances aren’t managed properly.

We ask the board not to give itself headaches it doesn’t need. Make the hard decisions and adopt policies that may not please everyone, but pave the way for more productive county business.

In 2014, when a list of ordinances called the 2050 Plan was making its way through the county, there was public outrage at the lack of perceived input. That proposed planwas erased to the point where the mere mention of it was considered damaged goods.

However, that plan also had acreage restrictions and would set zoning for the whole county.

Questions of the county’s zoning and acreage of future residential developments was yet another topic during Tuesday’s meeting. Two zoning issues, one concerning lot sizes were tabled.

Commissioners say they want growth that’s good for the county. Some of the ordinances that were attempted to be put in place would have helped this “quality” growth. Two rezoning ordinances were tabled. We are starting to see a pattern here.

Yes, it has been a difficult year for the Newton County BOC. Controversies have not been hard to find with a potential sale and expansion of the landfill, seemingly high legal fees that were largely publicized and racially inflammatory remarks made by a commissioner. But the BOC needs to wade through the muck and make the hard decisions.

As citizens, we should be involved with our local elected officials at whatever level we desire. But also trust that they will lead as they were elected to do. Some of that trust has been eroded but we have faith that it is not too late.

If this year has taught the board anything, than it should be that the can no longer be kicked down the road.