Candidates for county commissioner took their last opportunity to separate themselves from the pack.
On the proposed Transportation Special Local Option Sales tax (T-SPLOST), Tracy Lewis, Mike Abernathy and Mike Bearden went on record as being against the proposed tax, which would be used to fund transportation projects.
Tony Tidwell said he couldn’t give a position because of his current position as a department head for the county.
Steve Taylor said it is not the commissioner’s place to have a position on T-SPLOST.
The candidates also were questioned about the county’s budget and the necessity of making it bigger or smaller.
“I can’t tell you how much we’re going to cut the budget but I’m going to tell you we’re going to have to cut waste,” Abernathy said.
Tidwell said the budget is already operating on significant cuts.
“I think the budget as it is right now is about as lean as we can get it,” Tidwell said.
“But I do think we need to find more creative ways to save money.”
Bearden said the county is facing “tough times” and will be faced with even more cuts.
“It’s not time for government to be growing but it’s a time for it to be shrinking,” Bearden said.
Taylor said he believes the budget will need cuts but urged caution against naming those cuts before the election.
“The budget’s going to be cut regardless of what we want… [but] I think we need to be responsible about comments that we make about the county budget,” Taylor said.
Lewis said current commissioner Clarence Brown and his staff have done a great job with trimming the budget but believes more cuts will be needed.
“It’s a great foundation to build upon but I want to bring us into the 21st Century so I believe in zero-based budgeting and a balanced budget,” Lewis said.
The Bartow County Republican Party hosted the forum, which was held July 17 and broadcast on NewsTalk 1270.
At the forum candidates from another crowded race squared off for the tax commissioner post.
Vicki Beck, Chuck Holt, Judy Kilgore and Steve Stewart were all quizzed on issues ranging from the county’s Freeport tax, the budget and the duties of the tax commissioner.
Current Clerk of Superior Court Gary Bell and opponent Melba Scoggins were questioned on issues such as the budget, duties of the clerk of court and improvement to the office.
Greg Bowen and Anna Sullivan, who are vying for the Bartow County School Board., also participated in the forum.