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Amos, Meadows sound off on issues
District 1 candidates Pete Amos, left, and Brant Meadows shake hands at the tea party forum. - photo by Jennifer Sami
Thursday’s Forsyth County Tea Party forum was all about the local issues for District 1 commission candidates Pete Amos and Brant Meadows.

Water issues, Lanier Golf Course and budget reductions were all fair game for both candidates, who offered different solutions.

Amos said the county is “in the middle of an economic nightmare.”

“The county’s over $200 million in debt, growth has come to a standstill, unemployment is high and we’ve had two years of back-to-back $13 million shortfalls in the budget,” he said. “We can do better.”

“We’ve got to ask the citizens … do we want services or higher taxes? There’s only so much we can cut without starting cutting services.”

Meadows agreed that shrinking government is an option, but also said “we’ve got to find some offsetting revenue.”

“The No. 1 place that we can go to do that is the Local Option Sales Tax splits and restoring the balance between the city of Cumming and Forsyth County,” he said. “I think population-based revenue splits are the only way to go. Just by doing that, we take a major portion of that revenue.”

Meadows also suggested alternative ideas, from having people rent bikes or sell water along the greenway, to letting a company sponsor it.

Thursday’s forum, held at the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce events facility, combined both the District 1 and 3 Republican candidates. Each of the six candidates was allowed opening and closing remarks, answered one question on cutting jobs and expenses to manage the budget, and responded to two audience questions specifically geared toward the individual candidate.

Amos was also asked how he would handle the water contract between the city and county. The intergovernmental contract between the two expires in 2012, and while only Cumming has a permit to withdraw from the lake, there appears to be challenges in reaching a cost agreement between the two governments.

The county needs to find the best deal, he said, and if it appears the city is making the best offer, “our best solution is to negotiate with the city.”

“We need to work with them,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder why people hate the city of Cumming so bad. They negotiate the best deal for their citizens and that’s what any government should do. Just like the Forsyth commissioners. They should negotiate the best deal for their citizens, and when you get two governments working together instead of one lambasting the other one, they can work better.”

Meadows offered a much different approach, one he said would restore the balance between the two governments.

If elected, Meadows said he would call for “the consolidation of the city of Cumming and Forsyth County water departments.”

“We shrink the size of government, we increase efficiency and we all have one water rate throughout this entire county and city,” he said.

Meadows was asked to clarify his position on the county’s purchase of the Lanier Golf Course. Meadows said he’s never claimed to be for or against the course, only that as a member of the county’s planning commission, he was against the original rezoning proposal due to unknown boundary lines.

“I want to know more details before I make a decision … I want to look at all of the elements that are on the table,” he said. “The decision I make will be in the best interest of the Forsyth County citizens, you can count on that.”

Amos only addressed the course to say paying $12 million for the golf course is “reckless spending.”

Amos, who ran for the office in 2006, also addressed his ownership of multiple properties in the county.

“It seems people are more interested on what I own than what the crisis is in our county,” he said. “I haven’t asked for the backing of any special interest group because I own land … I’m going to represent the entire county.

“If any decision affects me economically, I will recuse myself. That’s the law and I’ve always done that.”