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Say 'no' to T-SPLOST, 'yes' to Sunday sales

Posted: July 8, 2012 - 12:11am

Starting Monday, Columbia County voters can go to the Board of Elections office in Evans to cast a ballot in the July 31 primary.

It’s an important election. In fact, on the purely local level, voter participation arguably is more important than in November’s presidential election. After all, local voters are unlikely to sway a nationwide outcome, but they are the only ones with a voice in local elections.

Following a traditional role of newspapers, in upcoming editions we’ll offer suggestions on candidates for local contested races. Today, we offer recommendations on the two binding questions appearing on all ballots in this year’s primary.

T-SPLOST

The Transportation Improvement Act, often referred to as the Transportation Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax, or T-SPLOST, will be decided by regional voters in statewide balloting.

Notwithstanding strong recommendations from local elected officials and chambers of commerce, we urge voters to reject the T-SPLOST.

Few recent ballot questions have been as argued and demagogued, from both sides, as has this referendum. Suffice it to say that the outcome of its passage would be neither as grand as its proponents claim, nor as disastrous as its detractors warn.

Our opposition is based on a couple of fundamental principles that don’t require mind-numbing details about revenue projections:

• No one in their right mind can believe it’s a good idea to raise the sales tax, especially during a struggling economy.

The T-SPLOST is pitched as costing just a penny. But raising the sales tax from 7 percent to 8 percent represents a 14 percent tax increase – a staggering hike. And in border communities like ours, that’s enough of an additional cost on big purchases to entice shoppers to head to South Carolina to spend rather than keeping their dollars here at home, which makes support for the tax from local business boosters seem odd.

• A general sales tax is the wrong way to pay for transportation.

The appropriate funding mechanism for transportation already exists: The gas tax. It’s applied directly only to motorists, making it the closest thing in our tax code to a user fee, short of highway tolls. Because transportation costs are factored into the price of consumer goods, it’s also broad-based.

If additional transportation improvements beyond those currently funded are so greatly needed – a point we don’t deny – then lawmakers should make the case for an increase in the gas tax to pay for them.

Instead, they created an entirely new tax along with new regional layers of government to spend it, and then handed the hot potato to voters.

No, thanks. We recommend a “no” vote on T-SPLOST.

Sunday sales

Columbia County voters also will have the opportunity to allow Sunday package sales of alcohol. Harlem voters will participate in the countywide referendum, as well as one of their own. Grovetown voters passed a similar referendum in November, and sales have been allowed there since December; their voters also will participate in the countywide referendum.

We recommend passage.

With Grovetown and Augusta already allowing Sunday sales, Columbia County and Harlem merchants are at a disadvantage. But that disparity isn’t the best reason for passage. Voters should approve the referendum to correct a nonsensical law.

Currently, anyone of legal age can drive to a Columbia County restaurant any day of the week, consume alcohol and drive back home. Yet only on Sunday, the law prohibits that same customer from driving to a store, buying a six-pack and taking it home.

It’s absurd to have a product that is entirely legal to purchase except for one day of the week. Voters can correct that disparity with a commonsense vote to approve Sunday package sales.

We recommend a “yes” vote.

More than any recommendation on any question or office, we urge all voters to cast a ballot, period. With three weeks of advance voting for five days each week, Saturday voting on July 21, and election day July 31, there is no excuse for every voter not to perform their civic duty.

Please do so.

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Comments (7)

Riverman1

What This Tax Actually Is

They estimate the tax increase will yield $840 million, but when you take $840 MILLION out of private hands in our 13 counties over a decade, you are doing monumental harm. That money in private hands would have done far more to help the economy than in government hands. Sure when you deal in pennies it's easy to hide facts, but it would be a tremendous amount of lost money for consumers.

Add up the sales tax of all the purchases you make and add 14% which is what the penny increase is. That's a lot in anyone's book.

Assuming there are about 400,000 people in the region and about 4 people per family that would be about $8400 per family over the decade. Crazy huh?

Spelunkerman

50:8

That's the split in the "Final Investment List" for the CSRA region T-SPLOST between Columbia and Richmond Counties. Several other counties are also part of the CSRA region and fall far short of the 50 projects Richmond County has listed. Sounds like redistribution of wealth to me. Vote NO to T-SPLOST and the bailing out of politicians.

Sweet son

Also Look at the Nit Nothing Projects

Give them the TSPLOST and they will figure out a way to waste it on projects that will do little or no good!

Many Arrows

"nor as disastrous as its detractors warn"

Who said it would be "disastrous?" A leisurely drive over to the Sam's in Aitken would sooth the nerves, as Barry points out. The mathematically challenged - 95% of the public - would simply wonder why their money is evaporating faster. The mind numbing revenue projects are a simple graph needing one addition to tell the entire story. AND it united the NAACP and Tee Party. This is truly groundbreaking legislation.

Little Lamb

Replacement

You know, the legislators might have been able to sell this regional sales tax idea dedicated to transportation if they had tied it to a corresponding reduction in the state gasoline taxes. After all, the thing that started this conversation was the legislators were worried about the reduction of gas tax money as people drove less because of high prices, as well as the increases in average mpg ratings of newer vehicles.

But, no, our General Assembly wants to keep the current per-gallon gas tax, the current sales tax on gasoline and diesel, plus the proposed TSPLOST. And on top of that, there is no talk of real reform in the DOT.

Vote NO! on TSPLOST.

pccarroll1

SAY NO TO T-SPLOST

I agree, no additional tax as we already pay taxes that are suppose to go for new road improvements. If that is not enought then the Georgia govnemrnment needs to make cuts elsewhere to come up with the additional monies. Also, if this thing gets passed people are wake up on January 1 and find out that in addition to T-Splost, the Federal FICA tax goes back up, the Federal income tax goes back up with the repeal of the Bush tax rates, the dividend/interest income tax goes back up from 15% to 20%, Obamas Health Care Bill has the FICA going up at least another 1%, the dividend interest/income tax goes up another 3.8%, etc. We do not want to have more taxes come down at this point in an economy that is on the brink of another recession. Oh, Neil Bourst, the radio commentator who broadcasts from Atlanta did his whole show on this 1% tax and he was livid and urged eveyone to vote NO. Finally, where did the "Vote Yes" signs show up everywhere and there are no "Vote NO" signs. This whole tax vote is one sided. Is there a group getting the NO vote out.

PC

Little Lamb

Signs

The 'vote yes' signs are put up by the concrete plants, the asphalt plants, the sellers of bitumen, the granite quarries, the paving companies, etc. I'm just one person, but my car has a No SPLOST bumper sticker on the back bumper. I've got a few left if anyone wants one.

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