In recent weeks, WLBB Radio has sought public comment supporting and opposing the new Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax option presented to Carroll County voters on the 2018 general election ballot. WLBB has aired numerous comments from those in favor of the proposal.
Local business owner Jason Norton has responded to our request with the following argument against voting for the proposal.
In T-SPLOST, voters being asked to sign big, blank check
(Comment) By Jason K. Norton
As some of you may know by now our County Board of Commissioners is asking us to pass what amounts to a 14.28% rate increase on our current sales tax (going from 7 to 8%).
On its face, this may sound innocuous. But, is such an increase really needed given recent and dramatic property tax increases? Lets review the facts. We all just received our property tax bills and I havent heard a single person say theirs went down. In fact, many went up dramatically. The county should be flush with cash by years end if they are managing our tax dollars appropriately and prudently.
The latest tactic being used to win votes is playing up the public safety angle. Now let it be known, I am all for funding appropriate levels of pay for our public safety personnel and, arguably, many of them are underpaid for the work they do. If its that important an issue to the commissioners, then why dont they prioritize our public safety in the budget to begin with?
If T-SPLOST is passed, its expected to raise $82.5 million over 5 years. The reallocation from the general fund to public safety funding represents only $2.5 million per year. Per annum, this represents only 15% of the proposed T-SPLOST revenue, yet this is the angle they keep playing up because it plays to the emotions of the voter.
The remaining 85% of the new tax our commissioners are asking the taxpayer to sign off on is truly a blank check. There is not so much as a proposed project list available to the public. At least when the regional state-proposed T-SPLOST was rejected a few years ago we were given a list of actual projects to consider. Hopefully voters will be wise again this time and say no to writing the government a blank check.
Norton is founder of the Carroll County Taxpayer Coalition, which fights for transparency in local government.