Editor’s note: Since the COVID-19 crisis prevented the Polk County Chamber of Commerce from hosting a candidate forum in person ahead of the June 9 primary, the organization reached out to candidates with questions to answer in a written form. Below are the responses provided by County Commission District 1 incumbent Scotty Tillery.
Question 1: What suggestions do you have for the complaints about the landfill as to odor, rain runoff, how it looks in general?
The contract between Polk County Board of Commissioners and ETC (aka Waste Industries) was signed in 2002. I was not a commissioner in 2002 so, I cannot speak on what drove the decision to sign this contract. I can tell the residents of Polk County; this matter still is one of my top three reasons that I ran for County Commissioner in 2015.
It was 2017 before the Board of Commissioners could get on the same page with conversations about the many issues facing our community due to this contract. In late 2018, the Board of Commissioners put together a team of Attorneys and Engineers to file the first lawsuit against ETC (as of this year the contract will be 18 years)
In April of 2019, the Court made the first ruling in favor of Polk County. This Board of Commissioners is working hard to remedy the issues at the landfill and my suggestion is, continue to support the current Commissioners during this litigation.
Unfortunately, everyone must remember due to governmental procedures, government moves slow. The problems we are witnessing did not happen overnight and it will not be resolved overnight.
Question 2: What is your educational background that qualifies you for the position?
I am a proud graduate of Cedartown High School. I grew up in the residential plumbing business with my father and older brothers. Our father taught us the importance of the communication and the importance of listening.
An elected official must make decisions based on the current and future residents of Polk County. If one ever loses that process, the person has not only failed the residents, but also failed themselves.
An elected official must be open minded when communicating with our residents. A resident will bring forward an issue they believe needs addressing, but the elected official may not see it being important. What an elected official must remember, if it is important for the resident, it should be important to the elected official.
Question 3: Please identify at least 3 goals you plan to focus on, and how you would measure if these goals are achieved.
Continue my support to get the Landfill under control and not stop until it has been accomplished.
Provide our Development Authorities with more tools and support to expand job creations within our county.
Continue to work with the Cities to provide more quality of life opportunities for all age groups.
Continue to help strengthen the Public Health of our Community and work with our local officials in completing these goals.
Continue to support the Polk County employees that are providing our residents with the services and the protection they deserve.
Question 4: What are the 3 most pressing issues facing Polk County and how would you propose a solution or corrective action to be undertaken?
The Landfill. Continue to support the current Board of Commissioners and their team in completing the goals in which they established.
Additional Job Creation. Create more tools in marketing for the Development Authority of Polk County. It is time for a new vision for the future of our County and the next generation. Polk County has a lot to offer and we just need to be selling our product and stay consistent.
Quality of Life Opportunities. Our County needs more quality of life opportunities for all age groups. I am working on a project now to help assist the cities with the Quality of Life opportunities.
Question 5: Do you feel that starting salaries for county employees are sufficient to continue to recruit people to fill vacant positions?
The current Board of Commissioners just completed a yearlong salary study that updated the employees’ salary. Our previous pay scale was very dated placing us at a point where limited amount of people would even apply. The Police Department starting pay is higher than many counties around us.
Employees salary is important, but we also provide great Health Insurance paying 80% of the premium cost.
Question 6: What is your assessment of the financial health of the county?
As Chairman of the Finance Committee, I can tell everyone that Polk County Government is financially sound thanks to our County Manager and Finance Department. Polk County has the best County Finance Department in the State. I will put this department up against any other County in Georgia. I am immensely proud to be a part of this team.
In September of 2019, Polk County Finance Department was awarded the Georgia Finance Officers Association National Award for putting together an award-winning Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
Question 7: Is the establishment of a paid fire department for unincorporated Polk County a priority for you and will you work to make that happen during your term as commissioner?
I am a Public Safety cheerleader and will always support our Fire Department and the Volunteers that continue to work hard to protect our residents. With that said, there is a desperate need for daytime coverage and evening coverage. There is no doubt that more help is needed within the County Fire Departments.
Placing a large tax on the residents all at one time is not the answer. I do feel the residents are open to ideas to better our fire protection (especially areas like Jackson Chapel and Prior Station just to mention a few).
Commissioner Thaxton has been working with the Commissioners on a plan. It is a phasing plan that I feel will make a big impact for our Fire Protection and not place a heavy tax burden on the residents. Look for this to be discussed in the next couple of months.
Question 8: What do you think are the positive efforts made and the areas for improvement in our efforts to promote economic development in our county?
The positive efforts are the Cedartown Development Authority, The Rockmart Development Authority, The Development Authority of Polk County and The Polk County Chamber of Commerce for they are the ones with the boots on the ground marketing our County each and every day. These groups are loaded with some of the best business and professional people in our County. The residents of Polk County are fortunate to have these people willing to work hard for our Community.
Our School System Administrations and the Educators are working tirelessly to provide excellent educations for our children. Our Children are our future workforce and we will all agree how important they are for the future of our County.
I believe the Economic Development of Polk County is on course and as an elected official.