Editor, In my humble opinion, the failure of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was not a criticism of the tax, but rather of the excessive — and perhaps arrogant — spending of our tax dollars by our elected officials. The threat of the new Transportation SPLOST, another tax, was maybe another factor.
The most popular excess is likely the $20 million-plus expense for the palatial Liberty County Justice Center. I say “plus” because of cost overages and interest payments on bonds issued, and bonds being repaid at the rate of $8 million per six-year SPLOST cycle for the next 18 years. MidCoast Regional Airport is another example of excess with outstanding bonds.
There are other examples, such as the questionable land purchase for the Colonels Island Marina, continuously expanding the county jail (is crime running rampant?) and over $3.5 million spent on landscaping the entrance to Tradeport East. Has anybody ever heard a compliment on the entrance? The list goes on.
I oppose the exorbitant expenditures by our elected officials, not the tax. I want to see laws enacted to curtail and limit our elected officials’ authority to commit to major expenditures without citizens’ oversight. All revenues from SPLOST should be expended during the six-year cycle in which they are collected. If the tax is defeated in the future, property taxes would not be raised significantly, as is now the case. The major portion of the funds collected need to be restricted to eliminating current county and municipal debts.
In the event of a troop reduction at Fort Stewart, the reduction of any excessive debt would minimize the economic impact on the community. Finally, all capital projects need to be listed separately on the ballot. In this way, voters would vote on individual expenditures and not an all-or-nothing vote. It would be a true vote of the people.
Our officials undoubtedly will oppose any imposition of restrictions, saying they are unrealistic, impossible and cumbersome, all the while crying foul. I would simply remind them they represent only a miniscule one ten-thousandths of the population and are considerably outnumbered.
— Terry Doyle