A political power struggle is developing in Banks County between community leaders and the county’s state representative.
County officials are pushing for a new community civic center to be funded by a hike in the county’s hotel/motel tax.
But Rep. Dan Gasaway wants the county to focus less on a civic center and more on building a new road to help traffic at the often-congested Banks Crossing area.
The result is an awkward standoff as Rep. Gasaway has strongly hinted that he won’t approve the legislation necessary for the civic center unless the county agrees to pursue the road project.
“I would encourage you to work more aggressively on the transportation-related projects at Banks Crossing, for which I have been advocating for over a year,” Gasaway recently wrote in a letter to Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman Jimmy Hooper.
Rep. Gasaway also made it clear he would hold the civic center legislation hostage unless the BOC relented on the road projects.
“First, there is nothing in the law that mandates a legislator introduce local legislation, especially if he has serious concerns about the legislation…The citizens of Banks County did not elect me to be a rubber stamp for a tax and spend government.”
In response to Rep. Gasaway’s position, the Banks County Development Authority, which is one of the groups pushing for a new civic center, issued a news release this week saying that Rep. Gasaway and the county’s state senator, Sen. John Wilkinson, “are set to be champions of Banks County during this legislative session.”
The news release also portrayed Rep. Gasaway as being on board with the civic center project, although he clearly isn’t. The news release quotes authority chairman Scott Ledford as saying, “We are grateful that our county commission and state delegation are in lock step with each other. Unified leadership creates wonderful opportunities for our citizens. Representative Gasaway and Senator Wilkinson truly care about Banks County.”
Rep. Gasaway asked in his letter to meet with BOC chairman Hooper to discuss the issue further. A meeting has not yet been set up.
On Nov. 8, the Banks County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to raise the hotel-motel tax that visitors pay from five percent to eight percent to fund a civic center for the community.
In addition to the development authority, the Banks County Chamber CVB board of directors also voted unanimously in support of the BOC’s resolution.
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