In just more than a week, Columbia County commissioners will meet to finalize the list of items that will be on the referendum in November for renewal of the special-purpose, local-option sales tax.
That pared-down list will be designed to make a lot of people happy. That's because SPLOST votes need broad appeal to win support.
But there also will be a lot of unhappy people, based on the difference between comments from commissioners about how that final list is likely to look, vs. requests from citizens hoping their pet projects are funded.
Simply put, the large numbers of people who want an aquatics center in Columbia County or a clubhouse at Bartram Trail Golf Club aren't likely to get what they want. Those hoping for a skateboard park will be disappointed. And the ones seeking an equestrian center are probably beating a dead horse.
Why? Money. There isn't enough to fund all the needs, much less all the wants.
"We've got a lot of meat and potatoes we've got to take care of first," says newly elected county commissioner Scott Dean. His District 4 constituents want necessities, not niceties - water lines, not water parks.
That holds true in District 3, where commissioner Diane Ford says water lines and paving dirt roads have priority. And in District 2, where commissioner Tommy Mercer argues for repairs in older neighborhoods to stormwater infrastructure.
Even in District 1, the county's wealthiest district, commissioner Ron Thigpen struggles to balance basic needs of citizens with requests for better amenities.
Taken together, the reality is that renewal of SPLOST is expected to bring in, at most, $180 million in the six years from 2011 to 2016. Yet in the nine days from now until Aug. 5, commissioners have to pare down more than $400 million in ideas.
It won't be easy. And with some $220 million in projects to be cut, there will be a lot of meat and potatoes left off the list - which makes an indoor swimming pool and a golf clubhouse look like pie in the sky.
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