WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — After discussing issues like crime and development, both Warner Robins mayoral candidates Randy Toms and LaRhonda Patrick say finances are a priority.
An $800,000 tax lien in early November put Mayor Randy Toms and his administration in the hot seat, but he says it’s under control.
"We also contend all of it -- not all of it -- it was some that we already paid, it was a back tax issue, so when you look at this idea, even from my opponent, that there’s $800K of back taxes owed, that’s absolutely inaccurate," Toms said.
Toms says it was a mistake in numbers. The IRS lowered the lien amount because much of the taxes were actually paid, but Patrick says mistake or not, it creates a problem for both the city and its taxpayers.
"It’s going to affect us moving forward, it’s going to affect our credit rating, our bond rating, our interest rate when we start developing, its going to affect our taxes -- all of these things are going to affect our personal households and people don’t understand that that’s going to happen,” Patrick said
When asked if he believed there is more transparency owed when it comes to finances, Toms said, "I believe that the city of Warner Robins is as transparent as we could possibly be. Are there ways we can upgrade some of our technology to make it easier for people to get? But we have more open records requests than anybody, probably."
Patrick disagrees and points to several lawsuits against the city as part of the financial mess that needs unraveling.
"If the bill is more than a million dollars on any of those occurrences, the city has to come up with the rest, and even if they can’t, well, even if they do, it has to come from somewhere. The city doesn’t make its own money, it doesn’t grow on trees, so these are real issues," she said.
So how does the Toms administration move forward making sure things like this don’t slip through the cracks and people aren’t second-guessing his office?
He says, "People are always going to second-guess government, right? I have an open-door policy, always have. I’m transparent, I’m accessible. If anyone wants to come and talk to me, then we'll talk," Toms said.
LaRhonda Patrick says her plan if she takes office, "We need to also have a committee. I understand there is already a finance committee, but I would want the committee to include people whose background is finances. I need people who are strong in that category because that’s what’s going to help us get through this," she said.