On Dec. 16, 1773, a group of demonstrators boarded ships in Boston Harbor. They threw chests of tea overboard to protest the British parliament’s unfair tax on tea. It’s time for the citizens of Midway and Liberty County to borrow a page from Boston’s history book.
The purpose of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax always has been to provide property-tax relief. Auburn University conducted a study of 136 Georgia counties over a 13-year period and found that SPLOST reduced property taxes by 28 percent, but increased government spending by 48 percent. It would appear that if property-tax income is reduced by 28 percent, but the commissioners increase spending by 48 percent, someone needs to consult the want ads for a new career.
In 1992, it was decided that funds from the first year of SPLOST could be used for capital projects, but the second and subsequent years were to be used to reduce property taxes. Our elected officials saw a windfall that they were not about to be denied and quickly changed that law. Today, all six years are used predominately for capital projects.
Our elected leaders are using threats to coerce us to approve SPLOST VI: “If you don’t approve SPLOST VI, we will raise your property taxes.”
Do they honestly think we are that gullible and forgetful? They used the same threats during the months prior to the Nov. 4, 2008, vote on SPLOST V. The following day, the Coastal Courier reported that the voters passed SPLOST V. In that same edition, the Liberty County Board of Commissioners published a “notice of property-tax increase.”
They intentionally waited until after the election to publish the notice so that they could get both. They continue to raise our taxes. It appears we elected Count Dracula and put him in charge of the blood bank.
SPLOST VI is estimated to bring in $54 million. Our commissioners claim that a good portion of those funds come from outside the county. How do they know? Let’s assume 80 percent comes from Liberty County residents. Multiplying $54 million by 80 percent leaves $43.2 million that our citizens pay. Dividing $43.2 million by 44,417 (the adult population) means that each individual is paying $973.
We also have an Education SPLOST, which adds $58 million to the above figures, and the county commissioners want to add a Transportation SPLOST, which would double — perhaps triple — the figures above. That’s more than saying, “It’s only a one-penny tax.” Don’t forget — they want to add a fire tax as well.
Liberty County Development Authority leaders said that companies in the industrial complexes do not hire Liberty County required. Then the commissioners should stop spending millions of our SPLOST dollars building multimillion-dollar buildings, extending runways and giving tax exemptions to these companies so citizens of other counties can have jobs.
Every six years, we hand the commissioners a winning lottery ticket, and they squander our hard-earned tax dollars. It is time that the voters stop these exorbitant taxes imposed by the Liberty County Commission and the wasteful, wanton and unnecessary spending they enable our leaders to engage in.
Go ahead and raise our property taxes moderately after we vote against your SPLOST. You were going to, anyway. But we will restrict your spending to critical expenditures absolutely essential to giving our citizens marketable skills and educating our children.
Alas, Liberty County has no harbor and no cargo of tea. Perhaps St. Catherines Sound would be a suitable substitute, and some government officials could stand in for the tea.