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Leaders Called to Build Fairness, Trust and Opportunities

October 7, 2016  |  Lamar Norton, GMA Executive Director
This article appeared in the October 2016 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
Lamar Norton
Each day brings new ideas, thoughts and sometimes opportunities. When you look at the many and varied issues affecting our cities, it is amazing that residents get the service and protection they expect and deserve. For most residents, this probably looks like a duck on a pond, placidly floating along. What they don’t see are the feet underwater paddling away.
 
It really does take a group of dedicated employees working together to make cities and Georgia a continual success story. Some of our cities are experiencing growth and development, yet others are experiencing a decline in population and the businesses that have supported local economies over the past years can no longer afford to stay in business.
 
One of the critical areas that we desperately need is the E-Fairness legislation in Washington that would require sales tax on purchases over the internet. This would level the pricing situation for our local businesses and would go a long way in making up for the lost revenue we have seen due to business failures across the state. This isn’t “creating a new tax,” it’s catching up tax law to the modern-day market place and technology.
 
Each city official should call their congressman or congresswoman and let them know how important getting the E-Fairness legislation will be to our cities, and that this is the year to pass this legislation. This is an issue that Congress can fix that would benefit local businesses and the communities they call home.
 
Another issue that is not as easy to solve is the current drought and the long-term problems this could cause for growth in our communities. The Environmental Protection Division recently declared a Level 1 Drought Response in 53 counties. We had a few good years of ample water supply and now we have experienced a long, very hot summer that has depleted some of our resources. So, now is the time to educate all of our citizens on the need to conserve this precious asset that we can’t live without.
 
Finally, we have to address the issue of trust in local government. GMA is currently putting together workshops that deal with handling tense situations and hostile environments so we prevent further erosion of trust with our public safety officers and the citizens they are protecting. I sincerely hope that each city will send at least one representative to be a part of these meetings.
 
Despite all our challenges, city leaders and staff keep paddling away, working to bring opportunities to their communities and create great places to live and work. We owe it to our children, grandchildren and future Georgians to get it right. What we do today can create ripples that are felt generations later. Let’s make sure we’re giving them our best!
 
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