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The Villages
Monday, June 14, 2021

Sumter County commissioners did not want to hear from public

To the Editor:

I attended the Sumter County proposed budget meeting Thursday. There were a total of 8 county residents in attendance including the three Commissioner candidates – Gary Search, Craig Estep and Oren Miller.  The meeting began with a public forum. A very well prepared resident, who had printed out and notated the entire proposed budget, was given only 5 minutes to ask questions which was no where near enough time.  He did get one question in.  He asked how much time each current Commissioner had spent reviewing the budget and asked for a response from each one. The Chairman, Steve Printz, refused to let the other Commissioners respond but stated he had received the budget on June 30, 2020 and had spent “several hours” reviewing it and he said he knew the other Commissioners did a thorough review as well. However, at the end of the one hour meeting when asked if there were any questions there were none from the commissioners.
Statements from the County Administrator, Bradley Arnold, gave me concerns. First Mr. Arnold stated that in 2015 the County encouraged The Developer to continue building south of 44. In 2018, the Developer continued to build both commercial and residential south of 44 which would provide necessary income to the County. Mr. Arnold stated that as of July 1, 2019 they had the information about the number of homes to be built as well as committed commercial areas. At this time The Brownwood Hotel and Advanced Medical Center had already broken ground. With this information there should not have been the need – other than reducing The Developer’s impact fees – to implement a 25 percent property tax increase. Those who were in attendance at the commissioner’s meeting last year and reading the commissioners’ comments in The Daily Sun were led to believe the County would crash and burn without the property tax increase. At today’s meeting it was noted the 2020/21 operating budget was done with a reduced increase of 19 percent. Additionally Commissioner Gilpin noted that they would continue to “roll back roll back roll back” the tax increase implemented less than 12 months ago. So why was the increase necessary at all?
It appears that if the incumbent commissioners running for re-election – but couldn’t get the necessary signatures to get on the ballot, paid their way onto the ballot, have been given massive contributions from Developer associated entities, do not use re-elect in their campaign literature – understand that they face certain defeat in the August election based on their callous disregard to the people they are elected to represent and support. The incumbent Commissioners – Steve Printz, Al Butler and Don Burgess – need to be defeated.

Susan Ridgeway
Village of Lake Deaton

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