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Our Thoughts: Newton's citizens committees
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Being an elected official is a thankless job. We are promised the moon every election season, and rarely ever see its full glow throughout the next four years. We don’t get all that we were promised, or in some cases all we feel we are entitled to, so thank you, I think not.

In the last few months, the elected officials on the Newton County Board of Commissioners have chosen several citizens committees to look over some of the county’s biggest issues. The Newton County residents who make up these committees are not elected, therefore didn’t have to promise a thing. In our mind they agreed to work diligently and have an open mind, and from what we’ve seen, they have done so.

So to you citizens who have made up the solid waste committee, form of government committee and purchasing policy committee: Thank you.

You have served your community well by attending several meetings without pay, researching the topics you were chosen to investigate without notoriety and showing you care for your community without the hope for another four years in office. Kudos.

You put in the legwork, but now comes the hard part — having your work stand for something.

The purchasing policy committee finalized its report on July 15 after months of hard work. The finalized purchasing policy document was supposed to go before Newton County’s constitutional officers and then be put up for possible adoption by the BOC on Aug. 18. That did not happen.

As a matter of fact, at that meeting we had a county manager, whose future role has yet to be defined, and a finance director, who was part of the purchasing policy committee, ridiculed for pointing out that the convenience centers were nearly $50,000 over budget in 2013 and 2014.

We hope things like this do not happen in the future if the new purchasing policy standards and practices are followed.
The form of government committee has another meeting Tuesday, just before the BOC is set to hear from County Manager Harry Owens on a county organizational chart. What the county manager and chairman’s role in our county has been a confusing and costly mess throughout the last roughly four years in Newton County.

We need to wonder less about who is in charge, and more about what is being done. Hopefully the form of government committee is resolving an issue that spans several boards of commissioners.

The solid waste committee just wrapped up its work, and recommends that Newton County establishes a Solid Waste Authority and “transitions out of the business of county collection centers, transportation and landfill operation.”

This is a big step for our county. To step away from the free convenience centers and form another outside authority (the committee recommended something similar to the Water and Sewage Authority) will take a lot of faith and leadership from the commissioners.

But isn’t making the tough decisions — after facts and information are gathered on what your best choice could be — what we want in our leaders? The leadership from our board of commissioners has been called into question on previous issues. Here is an issue where the BOC can silence some of those critics and help Newton’s taxpayers.

The direction has been recommended by citizens appointed to do the research from the commissioners themselves. Take the advice that you asked for.

We should be thanking the citizens who formed these committees, not wasting their time.