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Long Co. chairman breaks SPLOST misconceptions

POSTED: October 24, 2017 11:19 a.m.
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Voters in Long County are currently deciding whether to continue the special purpose local option sales tax in Long County. Revenues from SPLOST have gone toward projects like the Long County Recreation Complex.

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Long County voters on Nov. 7 will decide whether or not to continue supporting the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST. The tax amount is 1 cent on every dollar spent in the Long County and was approved six years ago.  

According to Long County Commission Chairman Mike Riddle, over the last six years the tax has raised more than $3 million, which was spent on recreation, roads and public safety in the county and in Ludowici. 

Riddle said he and his fellow commissioners were getting questions about the current SPLOST referendum, and he felt it was important to clarify to the citizens exactly what they were voting on now.

 “A lot of folks are under the impression that the SPLOST on the ballot right now is a new 1-cent sales tax, but it is not,” he said. “It is simply a continuation of the previous SPLOST that was approved six years ago.”

Riddle said people also seem to be confused about who can or can’t vote on the SPLOST choice.

“With there being a commissioner’s seat vacant, and folks in that district deciding on that matter, many people aren’t sure if they can vote on the SPLOST choice or not,” he said. “I want everyone to know that every eligible voter in all of the districts can vote (on SPLOST).”

Riddle said that early voting is currently going on now at the Long County Courthouse and that polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 7.   

Riddle said that he also felt people needed to know exactly where the SPLOST money would be spent, should the voters decide to approve it again.

“If the SPLOST were to be continued, that money must go towards only three areas: recreation, roads and public safety,” he said. “That is the law, and no elected official can spend that money anywhere else.”

The chairman also said that having SPLOST continue is up to the citizens of Long County and no one else.

“Let me make this perfectly clear, I or the other commissioners are not advocating in favor or opposition to the continuation of the 1-cent SPLOST. But if it is passed, it is a fair and equal tax because everyone who buys something in the city or county pays that same 1 cent,” said Riddle.

Riddle said the information on exactly how the funds raised by the SPLOST are available at the county courthouse. 

“I don’t want to speak on how much is estimated to go towards the city, because it’s not my place, and I wouldn’t want to put out wrong amounts,” he said. “But in the county I know that around $1.7 million is supposed to go towards roads. I think around $875,000 is to go to the recreation department, and around $440,000 was slated to go towards public safety, like firefighting and law enforcement.”

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