Sometimes when I am at forums like the South Hall Republican Club listening to public officials, I can’t help but to think about what I want to write because there are times when it seems like they are addressing me, but I am not allowed to rebut; as was the case this past Tuesday when the former music teacher, current assistant golf pro/mayor offered his rationale for why he supported the recent tax increase in Flowery Branch. While sitting there, I kept thinking about two quotes:
“When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Incorrectly attributed to Thomas Jefferson; most likely John Basil Barnhill.
“Figures don’t Lie, but Liars Figure.” Mark Twain
The mayor began by telling the audience that while “based upon the Bureau of Justice statistics, Flowery Branch has been identified as the 4th safest City in Georgia and the 2nd safest City of Cities its size in Georgia”; and that “Flowery Branch officers have the fastest response time of all agencies in Hall County averaging 1 minute and 21 seconds, Oakwood is 2 minutes and 11 seconds and Hall County is 4 minutes and 32 seconds”, we still need more police. My first thought was how fast are the police going if they can respond to a call in 1 minute and 21 seconds, but my mind quickly drifted to if we are the 2nd safest city our size now, how much are we spending to try and get to number 1? Is number 1 attainable?
What I couldn’t help but to notice was how Flowery Branch fared in their Fines and Forfeitures budget over the past couple of years; the Branch increased the budget by 14.08% to $405k last year, but this year they reduced it by 24.69% to $305k. Do you really think that the additional police will make you safer, or do you think it will help the Fines and Forfeitures line on the budget?
But my favorite statistic has to be “for calendar year 2014 FBPD officers either self-initiated or answered 17,436 calls for service (all types) for an average of 1,341 per officer a year. This is 66% more calls per certified officer as compared to Hall County Sheriff’s Office.” Let’s see, what does the Sheriff do that Flowery Branch does not do?…. Hmmm, maybe secure the courthouse, man the jail, or deliver warrants… perhaps guard the schools? What does a Flowery Branch police officer do?… how about write tickets!?!
You can always go statistic shopping. I found a site that doesn’t list us in the top 10 as safest in Georgia. When you look at downtown FB, it lists us in the 37.9 percentile in crimes per square mile; not exactly stellar. But please mayor, please do not use this statistic as a way to justify another tax increase. I just can’t afford anymore of your big government.