Stolen tax money should change process for tax office

Published 12:41am Saturday, November 9, 2013

As I work in my office on a gorgeous, sunny Friday afternoon, preparing to travel up to Leesburg for, hopefully, the Bainbridge Bearcat’s fourth consecutive football win, I am cleaning off my desk of items of note around town.
u Given the disappearance of $40,000 of taxpayer’s money last Monday morning, I am sure lots of things will be done differently in the future in the Decatur County Tax Collector’s office. I don’t believe anyone would believe that leaving that amount of money unattended for any length of time — 10 seconds or 10 minutes — is a sound business practice. And why wasn’t that office, considering the number of transactions occurring everyday, under video surveillance? I am confident Don Belcher, the county’s elected tax commissioner, is reviewing the policies and procedures in that office and changes will come. But, $40,000 of taxpayer’s money is missing — money that is sorely needed — because of sloppiness, there is no other way to describe it, and that cannot pass without action. I certainly hope the Georgia Bureau of Investigation finds out what happened and the person, or people, responsible receive appropriate punishment.
u With every passing election cycle, it seems the indifference and apathy among voters, and potential candidates, grows exponentially. A good example of this apathy is shown in the Bainbridge City Council elections this year. In total, there were four city council seats and the mayor’s seat, up for re-election this year. One of the council seats, the position left vacant from Dr. Dean Burke’s election to the state senate, did not involve an incumbent and I thought would surely attract more than one candidate. Those five positions generated interest from two non-incumbent candidates and 111 total votes. I am certainly not saying that any of the five people representing Bainbridge residents are not doing a good job or don’t deserve to be there. But, competitive races, when issues are actually discussed, are healthy. That didn’t happen this year. Our system of government works best with activity and involvement, it just seems to me that both of those vital items are decreasing at a rapid clip.
u Speaking of elections, congratulations to my friend and columnist of this very page, Dan Ponder, for winning the mayoral election in neighboring Donalsonville. If you don’t think that every vote counts, well, Dan won by two votes. Dan is a fine man who will do a good job.
u Be on the lookout for some exciting announcements surrounding the newly packaged River Town Days. The event has been moved from May to March to coincide with the BASS Elite Series fishing tournament and some folks are working like crazy to make this event the best and largest event ever in Bainbridge and Decatur County. New this year will be a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned cook-off on the banks of the Flint River. More details on that event and the entire River Town Days are coming soon. But, go ahead and mark your calendars, March 14-16, 2014. Yes, three days of family fun and entertainment.

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