City, county agree to teach community about passage of SPLOST

Published 6:48 pm Friday, May 2, 2014

In a specially called meeting Tuesday at the Kirbo Center to help the Bainbridge City Council and Decatur County Commission mend their severed relationship, the two government entities voted unanimously to educate the public on SPLOST IV and the upcoming election.
The two governments created, with the help of mediator Dr. Richard Carvajal, a government council that will meet quarterly.
In the newly formed council’s first order of business, Carvajal asked the two bodies to discuss the upcoming vote for SPLOST IV renewal and the two unanimously spoke in favor of its passage, while the two entities have a history of disagreement.
The two chairman of the government council, Commissioner Chairman Frank Loeffler and Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds spoke about the issue and educating the public on its purpose.
“There is a lot of money involved and with each distribution there are a lot of capital projects we have done,” Loeffler said. “If we lose all of (SPLOST) it would not be good, and we need to do everything we can to get this passed.”
Reynolds said he likes to point out to people that Bainbridge and Decatur County have developed into retail centers for some surrounding counties like Grady and Seminole counties as well as some municipalities from North Florida.
“So the burden on the tax falls on those people coming from out of town rather than on our Bainbridge (residents,)” Reynolds said. “This tax helps us maintain roads, sewer systems and lights thanks to people coming in from outside in addition to when bass tournaments, tennis tournaments and whatever else we host goes on, we are collecting from other people and not just our residents.”
City councilwoman Glennie Bench said she felt that the city and county coming together to decide on SPLOST allocation earlier this year, that was a major step forward for both governments.
“That is an example, despite the frayed relationship we might have, its an area where we have reached a consensus on the allocation of SPLOST tax and how that would be divided among the municipalities and to the hospital,” Bench said. “It shows we can work together and we all recognize the benefit of the passage of this tax.”
County Commissioner Dennis Brinson suggested to the group that they not just educate the public on the importance of the tax, but also what it is.
“We have made it our mission to tell the public that this is not a new tax, but a tax continuation and it is just ongoing,” Brinson said.
Commissioner Jan Godwin said a grassroots effort would be effective in getting community members to tell their neighbors about the tax and Councilman Don Whaley suggested Loeffler and Reynolds present information together on the local radio station about the tax.
The county and city elected officials then voted unanimously in their first vote as a government council to educate the public about the benefits of the passage of the SPLOST tax.