One last look at pros and cons of passing SPLOST. Learn more about SPLOST here.
- Residents and visitors alike pay sales tax and, therefore, contribute to SPLOST. Based on The News' estimate, about 34 percent of annual spending in the county comes from visitors. Using that percentage, visitors contributed $3.43 million to SPLOST in 2010.
- While SPLOST 2011 will add projects and future maintenance costs to the county, most of those costs are at least five to six years away. No 2011 projects will be bonded, meaning projects can't start until the majority of the money is collected. Because SPLOST collections are evenly divided between most projects, construction will start in 2015 at the earliest and the first projects would likely be completed in 2016. Smaller road and park projects could be an exception.
- Because money will not be spent for at least four years in most cases, much of the money will be invested and earn additional revenue, which would likely be used to pay off additional county debt.
- Because at least some SPLOST projects would have to be paid by property taxes if SPLOST fails, passing SPLOST helps large industries and business, which take a larger hit in millage rate increases.
- While property tax more greatly affects large businesses and land owners, sales tax tends to more greatly affect the bottom line of residents. Because local sales taxes apply to grocery purchases (the state's 4 percent tax doesn't) and most other goods, families that spend a large percentage of their income every month will pay more in a SPLOST tax than they would in a property tax increase. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spent 78 percent of their income on goods in 2009.
- Many residents and officials would have preferred more vetting for some of the projects which made the final SPLOST list. Chairman Kathy Morgan admitted that next time around she would recommend each project complete a form which includes anticipated maintenance costs.
- Some voters contend that not all of the projects in the proposed SPLOST list are necessities and that they shouldn't be considered in the midst of governments, school systems and private businesses cutting budgets each year.
It's up to Newton County voters on Tuesday to decide the fate of the 2011 SPLOST.
Residents have already cast 1,160 votes in early voting, which ended Friday.
"I feel pretty positive," said Denny Dobbs, chairman of a group boosting SPLOST. "I think people realize this is a tough choice, but really no choice. We have to keep moving forward. We've grown by 40,000 people in 10 years and the pressure that's put on our services isthat's put on our services is obvious to everyone."
Dobbs noted that many people have quibbles with some of the projects on the list, but he contends that 97 percent of the projects are ones the county has to complete in the next six years.
Some residents are unhappy with the list, but there has been no organized opposition to SPLOST. The committee hopes its efforts to spread SPLOST information and support will pay off Tuesday.
Past SPLOSTs in Newton County have passed with at least 62 percent of the vote.
SPLOST stands for special purpose local option sales tax. It's a 1-percent tax that pays for local government capital projects such as buildings, roads and major equipment purchases. If passed, the 2011 SPLOST would keep Newton County's sales tax rate at 7 percent and it's expected to collect $57.6 million over six years. Learn more about the 2011 SPLOST here.
If the SPLOST fails, it can be brought back up for a vote one year from now or later. The 2005 SPLOST will end June 30.