Courier Letters to the Editor 1-15-14

Former SDPC official gives thoughts

Dear Editor,

I was the building program administrator for the School District of Pickens County from mid-2009 until early 2013.

I was responsible for the construction of seven new schools like Liberty High School and Chastain Road Elementary. We also made additions and renovations to another 20 schools. I worked closely with the architects, engineers, multiple general contractors and local/state governing authorities. I interfaced daily with superintendents Dr. Stewart, Dr. Hunt and Dr. Pew in addition to district personnel, principals and school board trustees.

The seven-year building program is scheduled to end in June. Most of the principals, teachers, students and parents are happy with the finished products, and I’m proud of what we accomplished.

Now an even longer-term challenge awaits. More than 30 percent more square feet was added, so the district has almost 3 million square feet under roof. All of these new and renovated buildings must be economically heated/cooled, cleaned and maintained if the district is going to get the full return on its investment.

During the next two years alone, the district faces $9.8 million in costs for new roofing, HVAC replacements, repaving parking lots and painting of buildings. Like one’s budget at home, the pool of money our district has is limited. The more that is spent on maintaining our buildings, the less money is available to educate our children. Increasing and renovating the district’s facilities was one thing, how to run and maintain them effectively for the next 20 years will be another.

Bob Folkman


Rep. Skelton needs to curb waste

Dear Editor,

State Rep. B.R. Skelton should prioritize spending and stop waste before raising gas taxes. We don’t have a revenue problem; he has a spending problem. Skelton wants a 26-cent gas tax. Bad enough, but it gets worse. He wants automatic adjustments twice a year with increases on autopilot, so he can confiscate money twice a year forever. Skelton says there is no way to fix roads without a tax increase. Nonsense.

The past 10 years the General Fund has automatically grown from $4.9 billion to $6.3 billion through revenue growth — $1.4 billion in new money. If roads are a priority, why didn’t he use some of the extra revenue on roads? Skelton should stop diverting road funds to other uses and stop spending revenue growth on pork projects.

Had B.R. Skelton used even a portion of the increased income on roads, millions in improvements could have occurred without new taxes. To paraphrase Gov. Haley, “we don’t need more taxes; we need to wisely spend what’s already collected, millions in gas tax are diverted away from roads to other agencies.”

I agree. B.R. Skelton should prioritize spending and forget about his higher tax scheme.

B.R. Skelton neglects roads, squanders revenue increases, diverts gas tax away from roads, and now wants more money. Bait and switch. Deceitful exaggeration to convince us all we need is more tax and everything will be fine. Then comes the switch. Increases go to politically motivated projects, and the tax and spend cycle continues.

Phillip Bowers


                                                                          Chairman, Pickens County Republican Party