The taxman cometh againPublished 8:52am Friday, April 20, 2012
A 25-percent increase in our “local option sales tax” will result in a new SPLOST referendum for transportation, contained in the July 31 primary election ballot, is passed. This additional penny tax does not exempt groceries, and would bring our total local sales tax to equal 4 cents applied to every dollar spent.
It’s time to advise Georgia and local governments — no new taxes! Their new con upon citizens are the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) issues, backed by lobbyists, special interest groups and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. They promise it will create jobs, but without any guarantee of hiring Georgia workers. In fact, last November the Georgia Chamber hired a “transportation expert” from Florida to head the “Georgia Transportation Alliance.” Business Facilities, an independent ratings company, rated Georgia No. 7 in the nation in transportation infrastructure.
The main objection to T-SPLOST is that it creates an entirely new level of government! There will be 12 unelected Regional Commissions statewide, who will make transportation and zoning decisions plus “eminent domain” powers within our cities and counties for the next 10 years, with no accountability to the voters. It’s a convenient way for state and local elected officials to “side-step” their jobs and responsibilities to their constituencies.
Our Southwest Region 10 encompasses 14 neighboring counties and 44 cities and is based in Camilla. For our Region’s fiscal year 2011 Adopted Budget, their total salaries and benefits totalled $2.4 million. Plus, they list office expenses, vehicles and fuel, consultants and attorney fees, contract fees and more expenses, for a grand total of $19.3 million in expenditures. And we have only just begun determining the cost to taxpayers, considering this is probably a minimum of the dollars involved, times 11 other regions.
The majority, $17.5 million of their revenues are received from the Georgia State Department’s budgets of GEFA, GDOL, DCH NET Transportation and DOT. That’s a prime example of “duplication of services,” over-budgeting and passing the buck. Local revenue of $1.3 million comes from transit reimbursements. Secondary funds are produced by dues charged to the Region’s citizens and counties — dues of $365,023, based on size and revenues. As of June 30, 2011, Bainbridge was billed and paid $12,108, while Decatur County paid $15,933. Somehow, we must stop this cash-cow!
Denial of the T-SPLOST one-cent sales tax funds would be an excellent start. If it passes statewide in all Regions, it would net Georgia a projected $15 billion over its term. True to government inefficiencies and recent embarrassment, Georgia, few months ago, located $700 million in “misplaced unspent” gasoline taxes from previous years.
To weigh the cost versus the transportation projects in your area, visit online at: www.dot.state.ga.us/localgovernment/FundingPrograms/transreferendum/Documents/ProjectList/Southwest%20G.
Your decision is: Are the projects worth paying a total of an 8-percent sales tax on utilies, internet and all purchases for the next 10 years? As one wise Georgia stated, “As long as there is a tax that can be levied, government will find a way to spend it.”
Mark your calendars now for voting on July 31. If you plan to be out of town, obtain an absentee ballot. Remember, any SPLOST issue equals your “LOST” money through increased taxes.
Kelly and Byron Godwin