There’s a lot to be said about an organization that sticks with its mission. And there’s a lot to be said about an organization that gets better with age.
To the Dougherty County Taxpayers Association, whose mission is to educate and engage the citizenry while providing oversight and pursuing local government reform, we say this: You’ve come a long way, baby!
The association publicly surfaced when its small core of organizers read a newspaper account in 2006 of Albany City Manager Alfred Lott’s claim that, to balance the budget, property taxes had to be raised. The association responded by pointing out deficiencies in Lott’s budget; informing the shortsighted city manager about his healthy rainy-day fund (which had been accumulated through over-taxation); and exposing Lott’s failure to comply with the law requiring tax increases to be advertised.
The association won its first battle: The tax-raising financing plan was overwhelmingly rebuffed by the Albany City Commission. And this year, association volunteer Tim Coley spent thousands of dollars to successfully delay the postponement of the city leadership’s scheme to allow downtown manager/convicted felon Don Buie to administer a $6 million downtown revitalization program with no plan and no oversight.
The association has been defeated, too; most notably, the taxpayers failed to convince the courts to overturn Dougherty County’s incompetently administered property revaluations.
But with stick-to-it-ness, a strong core of volunteers and a city government gone amok, the association has a growing database of members, a modest bank account, and a ton of momentum entering this fall’s election. The endeavor is as comprehensive a “We the People” initiative as there’s been in Albany in more than a decade.
At its meeting last week, the association drafted a “Contract with the Citizens of Albany and Dougherty County”. It is the association’s – and our – hope that all elected officials and candidates will commit henceforth to pursue good government and, thus, will sign the contract. Here it is:
As an elected official of the citizens of Albany and Dougherty County Georgia, and in the interest of honest, transparent and responsible government due EVERY citizen, I hereby pledge to:
- Act in the collective best interests of our community and the public who elect me.
- Comply with the Constitution and all laws and legal regulations of the United States, the State of Georgia, and the City of Albany.
- Prudently spend the taxpayers’ money for worthy, non-wasteful projects and programs as if it were my own.
- Never grant nor accept special favors or privileges from peers or other officials in carrying out my duties as an elected official.
- Engage in no business with the government, either directly or indirectly, that benefits me financially or is otherwise inconsistent with the conscientious performance of my governmental duties.
- Never take advantage of inside, non-public information gained in furtherance of my duties as an elected official for the personal gain or profit of me, my friends or my family.
- Expose corruption wherever and whenever discovered.
- Assist the public with obtaining timely access to all records.
- To use my best efforts to decrease the tax burden for all citizens.
In the pursuit of these values, and my oath of office, I further pledge that I will always act: Proactively, Accountably, Transparently, Responsibly, Independently, Objectively and always Truthful.