Not Fair Treatment

The Hartwell Sun, September 29, 2016​

​Not fair treatment Editor The Sep t embe r 12 Board of Education meeting was a new low in how public meetings should be conducted. Mike Buckel, from the Hart County Property Owners’ Association Board was given three minutes to speak and at three minutes and one second Mr. Buckel was abruptly interrupted and ordered to “sit down”. What followed was akin to a feeding frenzy by a school of sharks.

Subsequently , Mr . Buckel was harshly criticized for suggesting the Board was guilty of malfeasance, misappropriation, and “hiding stuff”. Those words came from an article which was referenced by Mr. Buckel but were not quoted in his presentation because he did not think they applied and were not the point he was making.

​Mr. Buckel read a paragraph from the current Georgia Code, OCGA 202-167(a)5, which clearly states that reserve funds must be limited to 15 percent of the school budget.

It also states “The purpose of this paragraph is to prohibit local school systems from accumulating surplus funds through taxation without accounting to the taxpayers for how such funds will be expended . . .”.

The Superintendent criticized Mr. Buckel for pointing out Hart County had exceeded this 15 percent limit for the previous five years and was irate it was even suggested that a limit existed.

In addition, the Superintendent stated that in a recent one hour meeting with Mr. Buckel, he had answered all of the property owners’ questions and threatened he might discontinue future meetings.

In fact, the answers provided weren’t sufficiently detailed, thus making it necessary to submit an Open Records request to the school administration asking for full disclosure of items recently expended from these reserve funds.

The main theme of Mr. Buckel’s presentation was a plea to the Board to reduce their millage rate two mills so the County Commissioners could raise their rate by that amount and be tax neutral to the taxpayers. The Board declined the opportunity to help the community solve its financial problems and, instead, the Superintendent recommended maintaining the same millage rate as last year.

It is readily apparent the Board did not even listen to Mr. Buckel’s presentation. All indications suggest these attacks were planned prior to the meeting in anticipation of what the Board expected Mr. Buckel to say. When he didn’t fulfill their expectations, they attacked him anyway.

In my opinion, this unprofessional outburst was just an attempt by the Board through public intimidation to discredit and silence citizens or organizations in the community that persist in their efforts to get the Board of Education to be more transparent about their use of taxpayer funds.

               Dr. Garry Hamilton, President, HCPOA