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SPLOST lets residents vote on taxing selves

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 9:34 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 1:08 AM
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It’s only a penny, but the city’s special-purpose, local-option sales tax locks in the local government to a particular set of construction priorities for at least five years.

Augusta commissioners and interested residents are getting a crash course in “SPLOST” after Mayor Deke Copenhaver announced last month that Georgia Regents University is requiring the city have millions in matching funds in the bank by July or the state won’t begin construction of a new cancer center in downtown Augusta.

The only available source of those funds? According to Copenhaver, SPLOST 7, the latest incarnation of the 1 percent sales tax Augusta has used since 1988 to complete hundreds of construction projects, from basic road paving to the new main library, judicial center and Diamond Lakes Recreation Center.

The new SPLOST and an accompanying list of construction projects must be approved by voters, however, and the development of a project list, a process that typically takes months to complete has been compressed to a few weeks to make deadlines to secure $8 million for the cancer center.

Established as a way for Georgia local governments to fund capital projects, including roads and bridges – but never government operations or maintenance – using sales taxes, the SPLOST came with strict guidelines that continue to be amended by the Georgia legislature. Projects approved by voters on a SPLOST referendum by law must be completed. They may be altered slightly if conditions warrant, but can’t be deleted without voter approval.

If voters approve the new tax May 20, SPLOST 7 won’t be an extra penny – a popular misconception – but will only maintain the existing 8 percent sales tax rate in Augusta, Deputy Finance Director Tim Schroer said.

The SPLOST joins its siblings the Education Local Option Sales Tax, or E-LOST, the Transportation Investment Act’s T-SPLOST, an additional Local Option Sales Tax used to offset property tax rates and 4 percent in state charges at the cash register to bring total sales taxes on each purchase to 8 percent in Augusta-Richmond County.

While collections of SPLOST 7, if approved, won’t start until after collections of the $184.7 million SPLOST 6 wrap up late next year, commissioners have only a matter of days to decide what to include on the project list to make statutory deadlines for getting the new SPLOST on the May 20 ballot.

That task got no easier when commissioners were forwarded a massive, $741 million “wish list” of hundreds of capital projects sought by every city department and elected official that would require more than 20 years of collections at the current rate to complete. A whopping $472.5 million SPLOST package was Augusta’s one SPLOST defeat at the polls, in 2004.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, an acknowledged SPLOST “newbie,” said the commission’s job of paring down such a large list was the biggest challenge of the SPLOST. “What we need to focus on is infrastructure,” he said.

Schroer said despite the time constraints, having the commission whittle their preferences from a vast list of requests was the same “process we’ve used in the past.”

To bring the cancer center to fruition, most commissioners say they’re going to attempt to cull the $741 million list to a manageable form over the next few days, when several work sessions are scheduled.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: SPLOST 7 work sessions

WHEN: 3:30 p.m. today; 11 a.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. Monday; 3:30 p.m. Feb. 27

WHERE: Commission Chamber, 8th Floor, 530 Greene St.

QUIZ YOURSELF

ARE YOU A CITIZEN?

Q: Laws begin when a U.S. representative sponsors a... ?

A: Bill


CURRENT EVENTS

Q: For what role did actor Philip Seymour Hoffman win an Academy Award in the biographical movie about a famous writer?

A: Truman Capote

U.S. HISTORY

Q: Who was the famous U.S. civil rights leader born on January 15, 1929?

A: Martin Luther King Jr.

AUGUSTA HISTORY

Q: Who is Augusta named for? Who founded it?

A: Gen. James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, ordered the city to be laid out. It was named for Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the mother of the future British King George III.

Answers

1. Bill, 2. Truman Capote, 3. Martin Luther King Jr.

Comments (21) Add comment
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GnipGnop
11543
Points
GnipGnop 02/20/14 - 04:14 am
5
3
Vote no!!

The only way to control this sinking ship is by forcing them to right it and fix the leaks. Not one single for profit entity on this SPLOST. MCG can go ask the regents for the money. They didn't want our name I'll be damned if I'd give them my money!

jimmymac
33505
Points
jimmymac 02/20/14 - 08:11 am
0
0
SPLOST
Unpublished

Why on earth would the citizens of Augusta vote to give their government more money to waste?

story1
791
Points
story1 02/20/14 - 08:43 am
2
3
Keep sending the message

to our community to just vote "No" if these city leaders put any outside agencies on the list to receive Splost money. At least CC performed an audit of the tax commissioner - imagine if RC conducted more audits.

corgimom
28344
Points
corgimom 02/20/14 - 08:52 am
2
5
What I object to is all the

What I object to is all the projects that are supposed to be done with SPLOST funds but aren't done.

dichotomy
30758
Points
dichotomy 02/20/14 - 09:19 am
5
2
"It’s only a penny," 1. NO,

"It’s only a penny,"

1. NO, it's NOT just a penny. It is .08 cents sales tax on every dollar you spend instead of .07 cents sales tax.......which is ALREADY too high of a sales tax on top of PROPERTY TAX, VEHICLE TAX, STATE INCOME TAX, GASOLINE TAX, GARBAGE FEES, FIRE DEPARTMENT TAX, SCHOOL TAX, etc. etc. etc.

"locks in the local government to a particular set of construction priorities"

2. NO, it does not. It is a free for all list of PRIVATE, SPECIAL INTEREST organization that are lining up like vultures to get their hands on TAXPAYER money so they can use YOUR money to finance THEIR definition of art, culture, and charity and use your money while they decide who gets it. PRIVATE, NON-GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE ORGANIZATIONS.

On top of that, our local government has a TERRIBLE record of mananging construction projects and their operation and maintenance. DOES ANYBODY think they did a good job of building the TEE and the parking deck while SPENDING MORE THAN TWICE WHAT THE TAXPAYERS AUTHORIZED. How about the DOUBLING of the cost of remodeling the MARBLE PALACE and the SPENDING OF UNAPPROVED, FUTURE, ADVANCE SPLOST MONEY TO DO IT.

Our local politicians CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO MANAGE SPLOST PRJECTS and they CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO KEEP PRIVATE SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS OUT OF OUR MONEY.

Vote NO on this SPLOST if there is ONE private special interest group on the list. In fact, vote NO if there is ANYTHING on this SPLOST except the cancer center and paying for the Marble Palace (only because they ILLEGALLY already spent the money without OUR APPROVAL and probably should have gone to jail for it.......JUST LIKE THEY DID WHEN THEY SPENT TWICE WHAT WE APPROVED FOR THE TEE CENTER AND PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE GONE TO JAIL FOR THAT TOO).

pja5529
1418
Points
pja5529 02/20/14 - 09:47 am
3
1
I'll wait

I'll wait to see the final list until I decide if I will vote no or not.

Little Old Lady
4536
Points
Little Old Lady 02/20/14 - 11:37 am
1
2
NO!

I have seen too many projects cost much more that they tell you up front and too many "feel good" projects. I will not vote for any thing that gives Azziz 8 MILLION dollars.

nocnoc
38722
Points
nocnoc 02/20/14 - 02:49 pm
3
0
What an extra 1 Penny means to minimum Wage earnersd.

Say you are make GA Min. Wage $5.15 per/hour.
If you're lucky it is full time that = $10,712 per year for 2080 hours work.

If you are like most people, about 60% of what you spend, would have that extra penny attached.

So far A penny does not sound like much does it?

But, let us apply that tax to persons making Minimum Wage.
Note: An based on past SPLOST votes are most likely to jump on board given all the Pie in the Sky promises. Promises that are usually hinted at and discussed like they will happen, but never really are detailed when being voted on.

For simple math discussions
Let us say you spend $500 Taxable a month (min.wage)
Such a worker gets taxed $60 per year per penny.
About $5 a month per penny.

Now ask how many extra pennies we are already being taxed.
Well the state of GA collects a 4% sales tax on purchases of goods.

That mean GA/ARC 7% - GA 4% = ARC 3% alone x $60 per penny mean ARC is collecting $180 a year extra out of a $500 spending Wage earners pocket.

Maybe it is time to put the brakes SPLOST?

It is simple economics
Every unnecessary penny taken out of the economy for taxes hurts jobs, and other revenue taxes. So Lower end Wage earners are the 1st to hurt.

For a Better Understanding of SPLOST
Visit http://www.gasplost.org/
on how SPLOST hurts local economies.

Remember,
this is $$$ that you could spend.Which when spent in the economy results in more jobs, which would in itself generates GREATER tax revenues.

So why have a SPLOST that gives away your $$$$?

BTW:
If you are a Lower Middle Class Wage Earners @ about $48,000 income about $2000 or you income (50%) also gets spent on SPLOST taxable item. At $2,000 a month, that is $240 a year per penny.
Times that by the number of SPLOST Pennies or "added" taxes.

burninater
8943
Points
burninater 02/20/14 - 03:20 pm
0
1
"ARC is collecting $180 a

"ARC is collecting $180 a year extra out of a $500 spending Wage earners pocket."
----
The way that's phrased may be misleading to some, nocnoc. ARC is collecting $180 a year out of a $6000 a year spender. Out of the $500 a month, that's $15.

It would be wonderful if we could be taxed $0 ... but we haven't yet reached the day where infrastructure magically assembles and repairs itself for free.

burninater
8943
Points
burninater 02/20/14 - 04:04 pm
0
2
Your analysis showed

Your analysis showed something interesting though, nocnoc.

For this flat sales tax, someone earning $10,712/year will pay $180/year, or 0.016% of income. Someone earning $48,000/year, on the other hand, will pay $240/yr, or 0.005% of income.

As percentage of income, this flat rate sales tax is requiring the poor to pay 3x what it requires from middle incomes.

The reasoning behind progressive tax rates is neither arbitrary nor capricious. Rather, it is a recognition that there exist certain fixed costs necessary for human survival, and that those fixed costs increase, as a percentage of income, as income decreases.

Little Lamb
43999
Points
Little Lamb 02/20/14 - 05:15 pm
1
0
Flat Tax

Good point, Burninator. Low-income people pay a higher percent of their income with a sales tax than they do with property tax or income tax.

So how can we explain that the black leadership, who claim to advocate for the poor and downtrodden, support sales tax referenda?

corgimom
28344
Points
corgimom 02/20/14 - 05:29 pm
1
0
I sure hope City Stink does

I sure hope City Stink does an article about all the unfunded SPLOST projects. It would be eye-opening.

corgimom
28344
Points
corgimom 02/20/14 - 05:29 pm
0
0
Fiat Lux, because the Betty

Fiat Lux, because the Betty Beard project isn't going to be enough.

burninater
8943
Points
burninater 02/20/14 - 05:40 pm
0
0
Your statement is not quite

Your statement is not quite correct, LL. Low-income people also pay a higher percentage of their non-discretionary income (income that must be spent on survival basics) with property or income tax.

As to your second point, it is common for politicians to claim they are acting in the interest of their constituencies when they are not. Take for example the anti-tax rhetoric from Southern Republicans whose districts would collapse without the constant influx of defense funding. This disconnect between rhetoric and behavior would make for an interesting discussion, but I'm curious -- what brings you to focus solely on the leadership with dark skin? This would be a far more productive examination if we looked at it across the political spectrum, rather than choosing a focus based on the specific skin color of a group of leaders.

Little Lamb
43999
Points
Little Lamb 02/20/14 - 05:56 pm
1
0
Color

Why focus on color? Well, a coalition of black ministers here in Augusta held press conferences in the past urging people to vote for SPLOSTs. Likewise, the Augusta chapter of the NAACP has endorsed SPLOST referenda in the past. In contrast, white ministers were silent on the matter. And there is no Augusta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of White People.

burninater
8943
Points
burninater 02/20/14 - 06:17 pm
0
0
Augusta arts groups are on

Augusta arts groups are on board with SPLOST funding.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/things-do/applause/2014-02-08/augusta-arts-...

Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce is on board.

http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/Augusta_Chamber_announces_support_of_...

Heck, even the Summerville Neighborhood Association got some "Splost" funds.

http://summervilleaugusta.org/membership

Evans Towne Center Park ...

http://www.evanstownecenterpark.com/venue-info/

I could cut and paste for quite some time the SPLOST affiliations that are not "black leadership". You have a uniquely obsessive focus on this issue, LL.

nocnoc
38722
Points
nocnoc 02/20/14 - 07:40 pm
1
0
REMEMBER WHEN SPLOST WAS FOR:

A Countywide needed item and not a series of tossed together Pork, to do a lot of little projects.

It almost seems DOWNTOWN wants to keep the Taxpayers use to paying the extra $, JUST SO THEY CAN SPEND.

GnipGnop
11543
Points
GnipGnop 02/20/14 - 08:00 pm
1
0
Sorry Burn

But artsy fartsy and for profit medical colleges are not infrastructure

nocnoc
38722
Points
nocnoc 02/20/14 - 09:03 pm
1
0
WHAT IS ALLOWED UNDER THE GA SPLOST LAW

Types of Projects Only certain types of projects are eligible under the law for SPLOST funding .

The types of projects that may be funded through a SPLOST are:

1. Roads, streets, and bridges, which may include sidewalks and
bicycle paths;

2. A capital outlay project in the special district consisting of a courthouse or administrative buildings; a civic center; a local or regional jail, correctional institution, or other detention facility; a library; a coliseum; local or regional solid waste handling facilities; local or regional recovered materials processing facilities; or any combination of such projects;

3.A capital outlay project to be operated by a joint authority or authorities of the county and one or more qualified municipalities within the special district;

4. A capital outlay project to be owned or operated or both by the county, one or more qualified municipalities in the special district, one or more local authorities in the special district, or any combination thereof;

5. A capital outlay project consisting of a cultural, recreational, or historic facility or a facility for some combination of these purposes;
NO Private owned properties

6. A water or sewer capital outlay project, or combination thereof, to be owned or operated by a county water and sewer district and one or more qualified municipalities in the special district; RAIN TAX

7. The retirement of existing general obligation debt of the county, one or more qualified municipalities, or any combination thereof;

8. A capital outlay project within the special district consisting of public safety or airport facilities, or both, or related capital equipment used to operate such facilities, or any combination of such purposes;

9. A capital outlay project within the special district consisting of capital equipment for use in voting in official elections or referenda;

10. A capital outlay project within the special district consisting of any transportation facility designed for the transportation of people or goods, including but not limited to railroads, port and harbor facilities, mass transportation facilities, or any combination thereof;

11. A capital outlay project within the special district consisting of a hospital or hospital facility owned by the county, a qualified municipality or a hospital authority and operated by such county, municipality, or hospital authority, or by a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization through a lease or contract with the county,municipality or hospital authority; or

12. Any combination of two or more of the above projects.

SEE: https://www.gmanet.com/Assets/PDF/Publications/SPLOST.pdf
for greater details.

augusta citizen
8710
Points
augusta citizen 02/20/14 - 09:33 pm
0
0
??

I just can't understand why anyone would ever again vote for a splost, E-lost, T-splost, any of these.

GnipGnop
11543
Points
GnipGnop 02/20/14 - 10:40 pm
0
0
Looks like 75%

Of what they had on the list is illegal

crc
156
Points
crc 02/20/14 - 11:11 pm
0
0
Tax Tax Tax

I'm sick of SPLOST. The government needs to learn how to budget. The government has dug such a deep hole that now they are like every other business that has to make a profit...All they ever had to do was just break even. It's sickening.

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