I plan to vote against $43 million bond referendum and I encourage others to do the same.
Since I moved to Columbia County in 2001, county residents have voted to voluntarily increase our sales tax by 28 percent for two separate Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes; 1 cent for school projects, and another cent for capital improvements, mainly because we were told this was the way to keep our property taxes low. Additionally, the county citizens approved a $28 million bond referendum in 1998 that property owners have been paying and continue to pay until 2012.
The capital improvement SPLOST, with a price tag of $52 million for Tier 1, went into effect January 2006. A side-by-side comparison between the capital improvement projects on SPLOST for 2005-2010 are suspiciously similar to what is proposed on the $43 million bond referendum::
SPLOST Approved ProjectsProposed Bond Projects
Water and Sewer:$8,420,000$12,475,000
With the fast growth of commercial development in Columbia County, sales tax revenue has increased faster than the county anticipated. Why can't we use this increase in revenue to fund necessary infrastructure and capital improvements? Am I unreasonable to expect that our elected officials be responsible spenders of taxpayer funds?
Chairman Ron Cross in the August issue of Endless Opportunities stated that the sales receipts set another record for the June reporting period, up almost $200,000 per month. He added, "If this continues, I am sure the next budget process can include serious conversation about a tax rollback for residential properties." Why mention a tax rollback in August and yet propose a tax increase (in guides of bond referendum) in November of the same year?
Before elected officials ask citizens for yet another tax increase, I want to see my tax dollars used wisely.
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