Check what they want SPLOST for

Steve Brown's picture

Beloved citizens of Fayette County, beware of the shady bargain called Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

The dog and pony show has already begun, but this performance is going to have to be a real doozey to win over voters in the midst of such economic uncertainty.

This second call for a countywide SPLOST is reminiscent of the second call for a large bond issue from the Fayette County Board of Education (FCBOE) in 2004.

Remember how the school system was going to crash if we failed to approve the second bond referendum? Likewise, watch for the same cast of characters (Fayette Chamber of Commerce, developers, real estate community, etc.) who hoodwinked us into the second school bond issue to jump up and down and in support of the second SPLOST.

Their previous cheerleading persuaded the voters to approve a plan where we built schools at half occupancy, and one brand new school sits almost completely idle with a grand total of 40 special education students transferred from other facilities. When do we stop chasing the baited hook?

The SPLOST, one of the best ways to increase taxes on the poor and elderly, amounts to a significant increase in taxation that is virtually hidden.

The regressive nature of the SPLOST shows no interest in the value of your property or your income status, taxing everyone the same on every transaction.

In addition, it is a tax where all of the corporations who received generous tax abatement deals from state and local officials will benefit from the expenditures, but will not share the burden.

The sad truth is that most of the local governments took their share of the SPLOST proceeds and used them to fund items already budgeted in their general funds. Thus, the budgeted funds were used to further enlarge other government spending, leaving the impact of the “transportation” SPLOST marginal at best.

The cruelest joke of the current SPLOST is the waste of funds on the West Fayetteville Bypass, dubbed the “developer FREEway” by opponents. The only people clamoring for the bypass are the developers and land speculators.

Truly, where are the masses of taxpayers demanding the bypass be constructed? I can present you with the ones who deem the project as foolishness.

Certainly, it would be insightful to use those tens of millions of dollars to reduce the debts of the local governments, instead of building a road, a veritable developer subsidy program, no one wants or currently needs.

County Commission Chairman Jack Smith’s proposal to build a speculative college campus, for example, with a new SPLOST demonstrates the folly of the extra taxation. With colleges and universities dismantling their current budgets due to significant revenue shortfalls, now is not the time to “speculate” on such expensive schemes.

While the other governments are reducing their budgets, Peachtree City keeps on spending. With Mayor Logsdon acknowledging the next fiscal year includes the city losing SPLOST funds with a $1.5 million impact and the state’s homestead tax relief grants disappearing to the tune of $361,768, he is adamant about raiding the reserves to pay for two newly created city positions. A new SPLOST cannot rectify this kind of ineptitude.

Deficit spending and additional borrowing is not the prescription required in a dismal economy.

The constant increase in expenditures without a similar increase in revenue caused things to spin out of control in Peachtree City, and the prospects for the next fiscal year look much worse for all jurisdictions.

We rewarded the FCBOE’s financial miscues with yet another tax increase (SPLOST), so is it safe to contend that 51 percent of the voters will push another enabling tax increase to encourage our local governments to keep spending more of our hard-earned money in the midst of an economic downfall?

While families are cutting back left and right, the governing elite want to keep the good old taxation gravy train on the tracks. I hear a lot about “Conservative Republican” Fayette County; seeing is another story.

What we are getting is a lesson in the importance of values and priorities.

[Steve Brown is the former mayor of Peachtree City. He can be reached at]

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DarkMadam's picture
Submitted by DarkMadam on Sun, 07/26/2009 - 3:37pm.

All I can say is well done!

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