LEESBURG, Ga. -- The chairwoman of the Lee County Department of Family and Children Services took the Lee County Commission to task at the board's work session Tuesday night, arguing that the county had been a bad landlord in its maintenance of an office the agency rents.
Despite assurances from Commission Chairman Ed Duffy that more than $44,000 has been included in the Fiscal Year 2013 and 2014 county budgets for repairs of the office building, Alison Singletary said that did little to alleviate existing concerns.
"We can't wait that long," Singletary said when informed of the planned infusion of money for repairs.
Duffy told Singletary and DFACS Director Vickie Bell that the county had allocated $4,000 in its current budget for maintenance on the county-owned building and that that funding had been used. But Singletary said DFACS should not be treated as a county entity.
"We're tenants; we're entitled to regular maintenance," she said.
Duffy offered commiseration, saying, "We understand your problems," but Singletary cut him off.
"That doesn't help fix my rotting fascia," she said. "You ageed to make repairs."
"As long as there's money available ... " Duffy started, but Singletary again cut him off. "That's not what (the lease between the county and DFACS) says," she said.
Duffy countered by saying, "If I were you, I'd be pleased ..." only to be cut off by Singletary, who said, "You're not me. We're a tenant, and we deserve to have maintenance done whether you have money in your budget or not. That's not my concern."
County Administrator Tony Massey told Singletary he and Maintenance Supervisor John Patrick would meet with her to go over concerns after Commissioner Dennis Roland said, "I tend to agree with Ms. Singletary; if I rented a house, I'd expect the landlord to keep it up."
The exchange came after Lee Economic Development Director Winston Oxford and Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander made a push for votes to approve the regional 1 percent special transportation tax that will be on the July 31 primary ballots.
"Let me begin by saying that this one penny sales tax is something that we might not particularly like, but I'm here to tell you, we have got to do it if Southwest Georgia stands a chance in the future of creating as well as saving jobs in our part of the world," Oxford said after Alexander outlined the so-called T-SPLOST projects that would impact the county. "You see, according to the entire economic development community throughout the world, transportation is the No. 1 important consideration that a company makes when they are looking to expand or relocate.
"Without the avenues of getting their products to their target markets, businesses have no chance of success."
Oxford warned that Atlanta has spent $9 million on a campaign to push the regional tax in the state's capital city.
"The state Legislature is already controlled by officials from metro Atlanta, and if T-SPLOST passes in metro Atlanta and not Southwest Georgia ... well, do you really think they'll give a hoot about this region?
"Every penny of this special tax collected in Southwest Georgia will stay in Southwest Georgia. It will not go to Atlanta. The regions that pass this measure, they'll be the winners. They'll be the economic engine in Georgia for the next 10 years."
Commissioner Rick Muggridge said the special tax is important to the entire region.
"Forget the $26 million that will come into Lee County and the $30 million that Dougherty County will get that will have a huge impact on our county," Muggridge said. "Improvement on (State Highway) 133, which is very important to our friends at the Marine Corps Logistics Base (in Albany) and all the jobs there, is reason enough for me to vote for T-SPLOST."