President's Corner

Harry Lange

Harry Lange

Going Far Together

WE OFTEN HEAR that there is strength in numbers and that many voices are more effective than one. Furthermore, we are familiar with the old adage that if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for any thing. When it comes to impor tant issues, issues that impact the lives of the citizens we serve and our ability to more ef ficiently provide services to them, we know there is strength in numbers. Though our specific counties have their unique sets of challenges and opportunities that warrant specific issues in which we advocate, Georgia counties as a collective unit have many shared challenges and opportunities that we can and must advocate for together.

The collective strength of Georgia’s counties has been apparent in our efforts during the legislative sessions of the General Assembly. Our collective voice has resulted in several victories under the Gold Dome. Some of those recent victories include reform to tax laws ranging from Single County T-SPLOST which has provided a new funding mechanism for counties to address transportation infrastructure needs to changes to sales tax laws that will allow local government officials to receive increased information from the Georgia Depar tment of Revenue about vendors paying sales tax in their communities. Other recent victories include the creation of the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority that now provides a centralized collection process of the state’s 911 fees, as well as continued efforts to work with the wireless industry on broadband issues to ensure that local governments do not face any complications in managing the public’s rights of way. All of those issues are of significance to all 159 counties, thus it was only right that the ACCG membership presented a unified front.

The unified front assumed on those issues, and many others, is indicative of the trusted knowledgebase that is ACCG. From the association’s members to its expert staff, the institutional knowledge of which ACCG is comprised is what helps make us successful in our efforts. For the membership, that knowledge is refined through continuous involvement in various education oppor tunities and engagement in ACCG’s policy development process. For ACCG’s expert staff, that knowledgebase is strengthened through coordinated ef for ts with local government par tners such as the Georgia Municipal Association among others. Such coordinated ef for ts provide an accurate reflection of strength in numbers. Our work with GMA extends back decades as both organizations have the ultimate priorit y of protecting home rule and have worked on this issue together. Most recently, concerted efforts contributed to some of those previously mentioned victories under the Gold Dome —protecting the control of local government rights of way and ensuring that counties and cities received increased sales tax information from the Georgia Depar tment of Revenue.

You may ask why any of this important to you in your role as a count y commissioner. Positive effective change is rooted in advocacy and each of us, as county elected officials, are advocates for our local communities. Furthermore, we are advocates for county government as a whole in Georgia. As advocates, our actions are driven by intention and education. Colloquialisms such as “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything” or “There is strength in numbers” are constant reminders that we must be intentional in our acts of service and our advocacy ef for ts. Before we can do anything, we must ensure that we are equipped with the proper information and resources. That is when we can look to our knowledgebase within ACCG and to other local government par tners for the tools and resources we need in order to present a collective, united front to achieve our shared goals.

So, I ask that as we continue our ef for ts on behalf of all counties in Georgia you constantly remember the popular African proverb, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”