Editor, To SPLOST or not to SPLOST — that was the question ... and SPLOST lost! The citizens of Liberty County finally got tired of unconstrained spending and spoke up the only way they could — through the ballot box.
SPLOST previously was approved five times. The initial intent was to provide property-tax relief. Instead, we are up to our ears in debt. According to previous articles in the Coastal Courier, it will take $9.5 million to pay off the bond on the justice center, $2.6 million to pay off the bond on MidCoast Regional Airport and $3.1 million to service the debt for the Hinesville City Hall and public-works facilities. (The current payoff for city hall is about $5.8 million.)
This $15.2 million debt was incurred because our elected officials failed to keep costs down during the previous SPLOST cycles. Did we really need such an elaborate justice center or such a fancy city hall? And do I need to mention the “ghost bus” fiasco that is costing us an arm and a leg?
Because SPLOST did not pass, we now have a wringing of hands on how to come up with this so-called $1.3 million shortfall. And the answer seems to be: “Raise the property taxes!” I applaud council member Keith Jenkins for opposing any millage-rate increase.
Another “play the public-safety card” ploy is to not fill three police-officer positions and one fire-department vacancy. Additional police officers should be hired so they can go out and write up traffic violators. Those collected fines would go directly into the city of Hinesville’s coffers and could be used to offset shortfalls.
My question is: What makes up this $1.3 million shortfall? The article in the Nov. 16 Courier mentions a $20,000 savings by putting off land acquisition for an event center. That, to me, would have been a nicety and not a necessity. It should never have been reflected as part of the shortfall.
Liberty County has to learn how to live within its means. There is no guarantee that the SPLOST referendum already planned for next November will pass. Please note: In 2008, SPLOST passed by only 2 percent and in 2014, it was defeated.
— Rosemarie Swindal