With the exception of the Atlanta mayoral election and a handful of local City Council candidates, you are not hearing much ‘noise’ about the upcoming November 2017 general and municipal elections.
Those City Council elections are in Canton, Woodstock, and Mountain Park. In addition, there is one very important choice to be made by our voters a “Special Election” question (YES/NO) which is included on all ballots in Cherokee County.
That question takes up a full column on the ballot and asks the voters if they will approve the renewal of the “Existing One [1%] Percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales and Use Tax for Certain Capital Projects” — commonly referred to as SPLOST. This would be the sixth renewal and will run for the six-year period between July 2018 and June 2024.
The estimated value of the 1 percent sales tax to be collected is about $40 million per year, or some $240 to $250 million. About $70 million will go to the cities.
Here’s an example of some of the county projects:
♦ Transportation related: $95 million
♦ Expansion of our Detention Center: $23 million
♦ Expansion of our Justice Center: $17 million
♦ Upgrade and expansion of emergency communications and E911:$9 million.
♦ Fire and EMS related: $21 million
♦ Economic Development: $8 million
The current SPLOST VI, which expires in June 2018 will have generated about $190 million.
Here are a couple of important points to consider in your choice of ‘YES/NO’.
1. The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) law was enacted in 1985. The SPLOST was conceived as an alternative to property taxes for funding capital projects. Only capital projects are eligible. The revenue cannot be used for operating and maintenance expenses, such as salaries. The focus is: Transportation Projects — roads, intersections, signals, bridges, sidewalks, trails; Public Safety and Economic Development for job creation.
2. Renewal of the current penny will keep our sales tax at its current 6 percent — 156 out of 159 counties in Georgia are already at 7 and 8 percent.
3. Approximately 30 percent of sales tax revenue comes from visitors who eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores — Cabela’s, The Outlet Shoppes — come to our sports tournaments, as well as undocumented consumers.
4. Renewal of the current one penny will avoid a potential increase in General Fund property taxes by as much as 90 percent. Look at your own family budget and figure what the current one penny costs you each year.
5. There is an information link on the county website’s home page www.cherokeega.com. The Citizens Committee has set up a website: www.CherokeeSplost.com, as well as a Facebook page Renew Cherokee SPLOST.
6. Advance voting is Monday, Oct. 30 to Friday, Nov. 3 at the Cherokee County Board of Elections & Voter Registration, located at 400 E. Main St. in downtown Canton, and Woodstock Public Library, located at 7735 Main St. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7 at your designated precinct. Sample ballots for county and city can be found on elections website: voter.cherokeega.com.
Please study the background information available. Please vote on a well-informed basis. Your ‘Choices’ will directly impact Cherokee County’s resources to invest wisely in the projects most important to you.
Buzz Ahrens is chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners.