Jul 26, 2014

Get To Know SPLOST Debate, Local Projects

If passed on March 15, the special tax is expected to generate $10.68 million for projects in Powder Springs.

Get To Know SPLOST Debate, Local Projects

In 11 days, this round of SPLOST campaigning and debating will come to a close in Cobb County. 

Some believe an extra tax is inappropriate during the current economy, while others say that a special purpose local option sales tax is the way to fund current needs.

If passed on March 15, the SPLOST is expected to generate $492 million for parks, recreation, public safety, libraries, senior centers and transportation projects for the county and its six cities.

In Powder Springs, $10.68 million in projects are planned.

The special four-year tax would begin Jan. 1, 2012, just as the current one ends.

Proponents have identified SPLOST as a tool that leads to the county attracting more businesses. They say it will keep millage rates from rising and improve infrastructure.

Something they also point to: an estimated 30 percent of project funding would come from visitors to the county.

Many facilities have been paid for by previous SPLOSTs, supporters say, including road widenings, bridges, expansions of the county jail and the new county courthouse.

If the SPLOST fails on March 15, the county would incur debt and its Triple A bond rating could be threatened, said Rose Wing, a retired attorney who heads Citizens for Cobb’s Future.

The group began organizing more than five years ago to promote the 2005 special sales tax. That SPLOST, which expires Dec. 31, passed by 114 votes.

On the other side of the SPLOST debate are organizations including the Cobb County Taxpayers Association and the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance.

They say the list of projects is more of a “want” list than a “need” list. The county must be more conservative toward the current budget and see what can be cut, said Lance Lamberton, president of the Taxpayers Association.

In the down economy, county commissioners need to be thinking more about cutting taxes than adding more, Lamberton said. 

The biggest expenditure on Powder Springs' SPLOST list is $2.59 million to fix "deficiencies" on five bridges. Two of those bridges—one spanning the Silver Comet Trail, the other over Wild Horse Creek—need to be replaced, according to the city.

The bridge projects would be joint city-county efforts.

Money for the replacements will have to come from somewhere, whether it's SPLOST funds or additional property taxes, city officials have said.

Other items on Powder Springs' SPLOST project list include:

  • $1.68 million for road resurfacing.
  • $1.63 million for general street improvements, including sidewalks, curbs, gutters, storm drainage, striping, signage and intersections.
  • $1.63 million to improve the  and city facilities and to finish the Community Theater.
  • $1.5 million for , including a new master plan for the park; new parking; new baseball fields; new scoreboards; a "hub" building for storage, concessions and meeting space; and funding for the park's swimming pool to be moved to . The park project is a joint effort between Powder Springs and Cobb County.
  • $1.4 million for sidewalk improvements, including Warren Farm Road, Lindley Circle, Sharon Drive, Park Drive, Louise Street, Brownsville Road and the Preston Place subdivision.
  • $252,000 for computers and video systems for Powder Springs police cars.

If the above items, labeled as Tier One projects, are completed before the SPLOST funds run out, the city plans to use the extra money for additional road resurfacing and general park improvements.

Advance voting is scheduled for Monday through Friday next week at select locations. A flyer that includes those locations and times is attached to this article. There is no voting on March 14.

For voting locations for the March 15 voting day, click here

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