Who, What and Why about the Property Owners Association
Ritch Vandeventer, Guest Columnist, The Hartwel Sun, June 5, 2014
If you’ve been reading The Hartwell Sun or listening to Backtalk Live recently, you may have heard the name Hart County Property Owner’s Association and wondered who we are,what we do, and why we do it. In the first place, we’re not new boys (and girls) on the block. We’ve been around since 2002 when a small group of mostly lake property owners were upset with their property tax assessments and decided to express their joint dissatisfaction to local tax authorities. Fast forward to today and you’ll find that HCPOA has expanded our community outreach to include broader concerns than just property taxes. We’ve also grown our membership to include more than 200 families who live on the lake, on farms, in the city of Hartwell, and throughout the county. That’s who we are.
What do we do: (1) We stay in touch with most local government activities by attending public meetings of the County Commissioners, Board of Education, and Tax Assessors. We read the newspaper, listen to WKLY, and ask citizens that we meet from the Dairy Queen to Cateechee and everywhere in between what’s on their minds. In other words, we want to know if our local government is working for you. (2) If government is not doing its job, we try to find out why. Sometimes, it’s just a misunderstanding between officials and citizens, sometimes it’s poor communication, and, occasionally, it’s a failure by government to listen, appreciate, and react to legitimate concerns. If it’s a problem that affects the larger community, we try to dig deeper, get the facts and, working with both citizens and officials, to bring the affected parties together to resolve the problem. (3) And finally, we try to provide factual information to voters through monthly public meetings, ads in The Sun, our web site http://www.hcpoa.info/ and everyday contacts with our fellow citizens. Our hope is that the information that we provide and the actions we take will enable all of our citizens to make more informed decisions. Have we been successful? Well, usually no single person or organization can take full credit for county wide improvements but we have played a part in creating a property tax system that’s more fair and equitable; in focusing the attention of multiple state agencies on the disastrous effects of fluctuating lake levels on local businesses and lake property owners; and we are working with the Hart County school superintendent and the School Board to structure a SPLOST referendum that promises up-graded facilities and new educational opportunities for our kids and grand kids. Are we always successful? Probably not...but at least we try every day to make our collective world a little better. It’s not always easy to challenge conventional wisdom or the established order, but to my knowledge, no other local organization does what we do. Please come join us. We need your knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to help make a great community even better. If we don’t do it, who will?