County Town Meeting Draws Small Crowd
A town meeting hosted by the Fulton County commissioners last Thursday evening drew a small crowd of interested residents. However, one particular property owner was vocal during the event, asking the commissioners point blank if it was necessary to spend all of the money they were spending.
“If it was your money, would you spend it? No,” said Hustontown area property owner Perry Strait. “All of the money you’re spending, do you need to spend it?”
Strait told the commissioners about growing up poor in Taylor Township, and referenced the good times during the 50s, 60s and 70s when people could make a dollar. Making repeated references to the sluggish economy and President Barack Obama, Strait noted he lives on a meager Social Security income in addition to what he brings home from his job. He has been involved in the truck business for around 40 years.
“Things are so bad,” said Strait. “ ... I work for a living. I’ve worked my whole life.”
“Why waste the taxpayers’ money? What are these people going to do? People are losing their properties,” added Strait, who shared a story regarding a loved one who may lose their property due to the inability to pay taxes. He indicated there have been five foreclosures in Taylor Township during the last year.
Commissioner Rodney Mc- Cray told Strait the foreclosure issue is not just limited to Fulton County but across the nation. The issue isn’t solely based on people’s inability to pay their taxes, McCray stated, but at times can involve individuals living above their means.
Strait said the commissioners have spent and wasted money at the courthouse, with the creation of a geo-thermal loop and during renovations at the jail. “The government spends more money every day, and it comes back on the poor people,” he added. “ ... You need to look out for the elderly and the young people. Years ago, Hustontown was all older people. They could never make it today.”
Due to Strait missing a good portion of the commissioners’ presentation at the Hustontown Senior Center, commissioner Irvin Dasher recapped that 56 percent of the county’s annual expenditures are salaries and benefits. The next highest expense is professional services at 27 percent.
“The only cuts that we could make that would make any difference would be to employees. Which of your neighbors would you like us to cut,” Dasher asked. “These people live in and work for Fulton County.”
Commissioner Craig Cutchall noted the board of commissioners is trying to do things at a minimal cost to the people. Furthermore, both McCray and Dasher have backgrounds in the construction field. Having built several homes over the years, Strait asked if he could be an advisor with the ongoing renovations.
“If we don’t plan for the future, we plan to fail,” concluded McCray.
Among the issues that will likely need addressing in the future will be the repair of the courthouse pillars. The pillars, Dasher noted, are brick inside and covered with a stucco-type covering. Due to temperature variations and moisture working its way from the top of the pillar to the bottom, that covering is coming loose. The western pillar has sustained the most damage.
Major renovation work will also be required in the former domestic relations office, which will someday house the Mc- Connellsburg-based magisterial district judge. Safety measures will need implemented for court proceedings and public access. The connecting building, which previously served as an office for the Probation Department, will be razed.
“I’ve realized some of the reasons we’re spending money on buildings is because not a lot was spent over the last 10 years,” Dasher said. “ ... We will watch our future projects closely and scrutinize both design and implementation.”