YES On Amendments 3, 4, and 5

I think I’m in the minority of Peach Pundit contributors on these yes votes, and frankly the hour and day are late, so this post is perhaps more “off the cuff” than normal. I’m sure you all will let me know where I’m wrong, but consider this a place to start the discussion.

Amendments 3 and 4 allow the state to enter into multi-year contracts. A3 allows for long term transportation projects. There are many contracts that take more than one year to complete (i.e, the recent GA-316 interchange on i-85) You may recall that there was a huge accounting issue with GDOT recently, and much of that had to do with cost vs. accrual accounting. Many long term projects were started without the full amount of cash in the bank because they would be conducted over a multi-year period. Thus, it made no sense to have $10 Million in the bank dedicated to the project if it would only require $2.5 Million a year each year for 4 years.

The concept here is to get as many projects started as possible, while locking in prices up front rather than renegotiating every year. While there is always an opportunity for abuse of the system, I don’t see how the potential for abuse is that different if a project is let as one big contract or 4 smaller ones. In theory, this makes these contract more efficient, and matches expenditures with tax receipts.

Amendment 4 was covered earlier, but covers savings from energy efficiency upgrades to state buildings. Companies are willing to do upgrades to state buildings with payment from guaranteed savings on utility bills. To enter into this arrangement, the state must enter into multi year contracts so that the contractors can be paid out of long term savings. The state is at realtively no risk, and less natural resources are used in the long run. It’s a win-win, so I’m voting yes.

Amendment 5 is a technical correction that I’m told only affects two pieces of property in the state, both in Savannah area I believe. These properties somehow got screwed the last time the constitution was re-written, and this allows them to achieve proper zoning classifications. Or at least, that’s my surface level understanding of it.

13 comments

  1. Harry says:

    I’m voting No on all of these.

    The problem with Amendment 3 is, the political class in this state is not to be trusted. They will let contracts prior to elections with little regard to anything else. Spending commitments will be skewed in to earlier periods, to the detriment of the taxpayer. This measure will allow for more abuse and less accountability in DOT, which means that multi-year project funds will be mishandled or “reallocated” to changing agendas of the politicians. Funds need to be micromanaged on a year by year basis. Just look at GA400 and the situation in Gwinnett. The fact that a large majority of the DOT Board supports this measure tells you all you need to know.

    Amendment 4, same story. Politicians and their sock puppets are not to be trusted with multi-year contracts. These Amendments have to be proposed exactly because the Georgia constitution doesn’t prohibit our overlords to obligate the state to deficit financing, and for good reason. It’s why Georgia is not California, Illinois, or New York.

    You say Amendment 5 is a “technical correction” that just affects a couple of projects in the Savannah area. Sorry, I don’t buy it. You don’t pass constitutional amendments to fix isolated problems of connected people. Maybe next time they’ll do better due diligence.

    • drjay says:

      regarding ammendment 5, unfortunatley the way the law was written, well in the past that est. these particular parcels, it literally requires ammending the constitution to annex these tracts, tracts the property owners want annexed, the quirk in the law would probably have never come up otherwise, and again, unfortunately, this is the only way to make it happen…

      “This amendment removes the requirement that real property be located “on an island” prior to the owner filing a certificate to remove it from an industrial area, and be annexed by an adjacent city.
      This referendum involves a local issue in Garden City, GA and in Jeff Davis County. Because it was established many years ago under a “local constitutional amendment”, a
      a constutional amendment is needed to annex the land parcel in question.”

          • drjay says:

            as best i can tell, and as these were explained to me-there should not be any–my understanding is the 2 tracts in question are literally the only 2 that would even fall under this amendment–these industril zones were created in the 50’s as something called a “local constitutional amendment” to foster conomic development-when the new constitution was passed in 83-these were locked in limbo because “local constitutional amendments are now prohibited meaning that what is basically a zoning change now requires a vote by the whole state…he mayor of sav’h wrote about it here

            http://savannahnow.com/column/2010-10-22/mayor-yes-amendment-5

  2. saltycracker says:

    Long term contracts can allow a bad bunch to commit the taxpayer to some hinky deals for a long time after they are thrown out or imprisoned.

    It could get really exciting if that long term terminology includes leases.

  3. Quaker says:

    Permitting today’s politicians to obligate tomorrow’s citizens for unlimited debt seems to be what conservatives claim to be upset about in Washington. Why inflict that on Georgia? By way of example, the state constitution requires that any change to a public pension fund be concurrently funded – a great idea that prevents today’s pols from granting costly increases with the payment becoming due long after they’re out of office. Problem is, that “concurtrent funding” can legally be amortized over 20 years, with only the first payment required to be made in the first appropriations Act. Having to fund that first payment does act as some deterrent, but the amortization has resulted is strain on the funding of public retireemrnt systems because, well, politicians of all stripes simply can’t help themselves when it comes to giving away goodies they don’t have to pay for.

  4. drjay says:

    although i am voting yes on 5, i agree, it seems odd that the constitution has to be breached to address such a small issue–which brings me to my complaint du jour–what’s up with all the constitutional tinkering at the state level–we are voting on 5 ammendments just this year–the entire history of the us constitution includes just 27–is there a good reason for the discrepancy?

  5. saltycracker says:

    Look at the bright side – maybe with long term contracts we could have gotten a spa at more state golf courses !

  6. rightofcenter says:

    Charlie,
    Shock of shock, I agree with you on all three of these amendments (on the referendum – not so much).

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