SPLOST not a 'new' tax

Residents of Richmond County have a major decision to make Tuesday: Should we vote for or against the proposed special-purpose local option sales tax?

 

Personally, it is more difficult for me to understand the reasoning being presented for the case against SPLOST.

It is not a new tax. It does not duplicate the storm water fee. SPLOST cannot be used for maintenance.

Richmond County is a very old county. We have 900-plus miles of pipes, somewhere near 45,000 culverts and similar structures. The storm water fee will be used to maintain these elements of the county’s water system.

I don’t have the exact figure, but it is safe to say that $600-700 million has been spent on wonderful projects throughout our county since SPLOST began.

As for the cost of maintaining new buildings built with SPLOST funds: best to speak with your legislators; state law, in its current form, does not allow for such, only the construction cost.

Folks talk about “high property taxes” in Richmond County. The truth is, when broken up into monthly amounts and compared to other costs you supposedly can’t live without – say, cell phones and cable TV – our taxes are not so very out of line.

For a monthly cost somewhere near your cell phone or cable, you receive police and fire protection, garbage collection, parks and recreation facilities, street lighting, and on and on.

When I was a sitting commissioner, I had people constantly complaining about taxes. I simply asked them what services they would like to eliminate.

We are voting on just over $200 million worth of projects – at a cost to us of some $100 million, since close to 50 percent of the revenue comes from non-Richmond County taxpayers.

It is simply a 1-cent tax on purchases which has been on the books for years. It is not a new tax.

Having been a sitting commissioner gives me a unique perspective on how everything truly works in our county. Can it be improved? Yes! Will it improve? The jury is still out.

It comes down to you and your decision.

I represented District 7 on the county commission. The election results were nothing less than shocking: 86 percent of the voters in the district didn’t make the effort to cast their vote.

SPLOST may or may not pass on Tuesday. I hope it does. However the vote on SPLOST goes, don’t let the decision be made by a tiny percentage of the voters. Don’t allow a handful of people to make such an important decision.

Hap Harris

Augusta

 

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