Vidalia needs to be open, honest about finances

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The motorcycles and drones should have been a sign that something was not hunky-dory with the Town of Vidalia’s finances.

In the last two years, the town purchased drones for its police department’s use along with motorcycles to form a police motorcycle patrol.

At the same time, presumably, the town was just burning money — some of which it didn’t have.

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The town recently ended the 2015-2016 fiscal year with a $4.9 million deficit. That’s more than $1,000 in overspending for each Vidalia resident.

Included in the amount overspent last fiscal year was more than $100,000 in legal fees reimbursed to former Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland. The former mayor hired a high-dollar attorney to represent him while the FBI conducted an investigation of the defunct Square on Carter development project.

Apparently, the rather lavish manner in which the town operated is catching up with it now.

Although we don’t know all the details yet, the new administration has called for a public meeting tonight.

Mayor Buz Craft, who just took over earlier this month, has hinted that the town may need to borrow money to pay its bills. That’s in spite of reductions in town government payroll that Craft did upon his assuming the mayor’s seat.

We applaud Craft for simply taking the matter to the people and, presumably, giving them insight into the town’s finances.

At this point, we hope the new town leaders and residents focus less on how the town got into the current predicament, but on how to get out of it.

Being open, honest and forthright with discussions of town finances is the first step in the process.