SPLOST is crack cocaine for local officials

Steve Brown's picture

The cat, regarding the proposed SPLOST, is officially out of the bag.

Fayette County Commissioner Lee Hearn trudged out to meet with the disgruntled constituents, trying to prevent the natives from getting more restless. As fate would have it, some of the constituents had the audacity to actually read the 2009 SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) ballot and supporting materials, a commissioner’s nightmare.

The local taxpayers launched the question, “Why did the commissioners put a multi-million dollar bridge near their homes which no one wants in the SPLOST?” You can imagine a nagging follow-up question like, “If local residents in the area do not want it, then who does want it and why?”

It was a rough day for Commissioner Hearn. He had to admit those projects were a bad idea. Then those concerned citizens asked something like, “If they were a bad idea, then why did you put them in the SPLOST?”

Okay, at this uncomfortable point, dadgummit, it was time for a moment of revelation, so Commissioner Hearn admitted the commissioners had not even seen the projects on the SPLOST list until the evening they voted on them. Unbelievable!

Needless to say, that little tidbit of information did not warm the hearts of the little group of concerned citizens, the ones who bothered to read the documents.

When you have $136 million on the table, should we not expect there to be a thorough and extensive vetting process, weighing each multi-million dollar project on its merits? The bottom line is the SPLOST for the November referendum is an absolute joke crafted by a group of uncaring individuals.

Local governments were literally scrambling to find ways to spend the potential windfall from extending a local sales tax increase.

The county also desires to pay the outstanding debt of the county Justice Center with the SPLOST funds. Now why would anyone in their right mind want to pay off the long-term debt obligations of the county all at one time, on our backs, in a horrible economy? The Justice Center will be used for generations to come, so why not let the people who move to town over the next 25 or so years help pay for the facility?

The county wants the residents here and now to pay everyone’s future use of the Justice Center. No, “we” are not saving $21.5 million in interest payments; instead, we are eating the entire $55 million payoff. The taxpayers of the future are being spared the interest and the principal, lucky them.

I was offended when a “speculative” university campus appeared on the SPLOST list. It is an absolute fact that the state Board of Regents is mandating substantial cuts on every college and university under its authority due to the depressed economy. Again, why in the world would anyone introduce a speculative building in our current circumstances?

Guess which local developer wants this pet project? It is truly astounding that they would even consider this at a time of high unemployment and families struggling.

For the record, years ago, Georgia State University wanted to come to Fayette County and pay for their own campus (imagine that) but they were discouraged from coming, mainly because the county development authority chairman was on the board of Clayton State University (who wants us to buy a building for them).

For all the Peachtree City taxpayers who thought we were finally over having to pay for county fire and EMS service we do not receive, we now lose all the money we saved by building new county fire stations in the SPLOST.

And wait a minute, we are being asked to replace the county’s heavy equipment. Why can’t the county cover that expense in their budget just like Tyrone, Fayetteville and Peachtree City? Why are we paying off your libraries for certain cities?

We are also being asked to pay the outstanding debts of the Peachtree City Airport Authority, an autonomous governmental body over which the voter/taxpayer has absolutely no control.

Some of the proposed road and bridge projects are laughable. We also pay for Woolsey’s community center, and it goes on and on.

Look out for the vague language too, the “including, but not limited to” phrases, all throughout the document. That is nothing but legal cover for doing whatever they want with the funds.

This is what a Wall Street bailout looks like at the local level.

These SPLOST proposals are the new crack cocaine. It does not matter how many millions upon millions you waste, as long as you get your fix. And Peachtree City, unfortunately, has turned into a major junkie. To think the City Council would sell off city assets for a one-time financial fix is totally sad, but this SPLOST is worse.

Someone is going to have to prove to me that our county commissioners were not outright negligent on this one.

Fiduciary obligations were abandoned. And all those big businesses we have given huge tax breaks, they do not pay this sales tax.

The new proposal is just like the West Fayetteville Bypass in the old one with developers and builders getting a $51 million bonanza and the taxpayers getting the shaft.

Show up at the polls and vote this one down.

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

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grassroots's picture
Submitted by grassroots on Tue, 10/27/2009 - 8:14pm.

Go to :
and read attorney's filing against Fayette County Commissioners to stop the West Fayetteville Bypass and open accountability for justifying SPLOST. VOTE NO ON SPLOST

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