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Say yes to TSPLOST, no to drugs
Jeff Whitten NEW
Jeff Whitten is managing editor of the Bryan County News and Coastal Courier, his favorite papers. - photo by File photo

So let’s get the “no” portion of this exercise in editorial futility out of the way first.

Unless it’s something prescribed by your doctor, and sometimes even if it is, just be like Nancy Reagan and say no to drugs. Drugs are bad. Tell them no – unless you need them for medical reasons, of course.

There, that’s my public service announcement for the annum. For the rest of this column I’m going to try to explain why I think you should vote for TSPLOST (short for Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax) – even though it really only boils down to the simplest of reasons. 

You drive. You use roads. You want good roads to use. You’re going to pay for it one way or the other.  The question is who else will help pay for it.  

 Of course, if you don’t drive, you probably did at one point in your career. If you haven’t you probably will. In our world as it is currently set up everybody drives, or almost everybody, and that includes folks who have no business driving.  

It’s why we call it the rat race, I think, because we’re all out there mashing our gas pedals hard as we can to get the cheese before someone else gets it and eats it and then races off to get the rest of the cheese.  Or maybe it isn’t, but as one who often runs low on cheese, I can attest it seems that way sometimes. 

That said, my soon-to-be-famous nephew David doesn’t drive even though he’s over 30. I don’t know how he’s managed to avoid it for so long, but I admire his tenacity because driving isn’t much fun anymore. There are too many drivers of giant pickups out there trying to beat you to the next stop sign and zapping you with their death ray headlights. 

I know, I digress (it’s apparently a hobby of mine). The point is, more people than ever are behind the wheel of something these days, and they’re driving around on a federal, state and local patchwork of roads which has been in need of blowing up and starting over for decades. 

Traffic around here ranges from actually not all that bad to downright awful. The roads do the same. Some are good, some have potholes. Some are smooth as a baby’s bottom, some bounce you around like you’re the baby and you’re being burped until your fillings fall out and your hubcaps fall off, etc. Many were designed and built long before the Georgia coast became a target for people who didn’t want to go all the way to Florida to retire. We’re just full of cars nowadays.

And so the roads need work. 

They need fixing, and widening, and traffic signaled, and somebody has to pay for it. The way things used to work, the money to build or fix roads would be some combination of federal or state money (which comes from taxpayers) and strapped local government funding – most of which would come from local property owners, not all of whom can figure out how to get out of paying their share of property taxes. 

It’s one reason why roads around here have been in such a state for so long. There isn’t enough money in general funds to fix everything. And remember that question earlier in this column – who else is going to help you pay for transportation ipmrovements? 

Under TSPLOST, the money comes from everybody who spends $1 in Liberty County, whether they live here or not. And it’s a tax you don’t have to pay. You can go shop somewhere else if you want, or not shop. It’s also a tax that won’t go to anything else. 

And look on the bright side.  At least you’re not Richmond Hill, which in its effort to keep up with Hilton Head has transmorgified itself into traffic hades. But it has TSPLOST – Bryan voters approved it some time back – and a ubiquitous supply of orange traffic barrels to mark the slow progress from one road project to the next. Sure, by the time ithey’re done they’ll need more roads over there, but at least they’re trying. 

Finally, I get the CAVE folks tired of being taxed to death a penny at a time. I’ve yet to see a SPLOST lower my property taxes over in Effingham, which is where I live and drive on increasingly crowded highways and byways. 

But property taxes have stabilized, thanks to SPLOSTS (we’ve got them coming out our ears over there, too.) If I’m going to have to pay them I want them going for things I support, like roads I can get somewhere using without getting run over, or stuck in traffic on for an extra hour, or meeting up with a sinkhole pretending to be a pothole and having my axles fall off.  Early voting starts March 2 and the opinions expressed here are mine.  Now, in the immortal words of Erk, GATA. 

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