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SPLOST passes
Election marks low voter turnout, 2004 in-favor votes

With 75.59 percent of the voters choosing to pass the 2017 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), the penny sales tax will continue on in Newton County for six more years.

Hugh Steele, chair of the Newton County Board of Elections, reported 2004 votes in favor of the SPLOST and 647 votes against Tuesday night.

A total of 4.29 percent of the registered voters in the county went to the polls for the March 21 election. Thirty-three votes were mailed in as absentee ballots and 755 were cast during the early voting period.

Items on the SPLOST list include debt payment, economic development, upgrades to the E911 Center, building a new Animal Control facility and expansion of the Yellow River Trail, among other things. The list of projects was created by a citizen’s SPLOST committee and approved by the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC).

"We are proud to be a part of a community that recognizes the importance of SPLOST," Ralph Staffins, Covington/Newton Chamber of Commerce president and member of the SPLOST committee, said. "The Newton Chamber and its membership has to have an extremely strong voice in our community and our strength shows in this vote.

"SPLOST success is important to Newton County's growth and our organization's committed to that growth."

Notable previous SPLOST projects include the expansion of the Newton County Judicial Center, an emergency room expansion and the renovation of the Historic Courthouse.

"The campaign to Vote Yes For Continued SPLOST Success was met with support from a wide variety of citizens and stakeholders, to whom we are very grateful," Baxter Bouchillon, chairman of the 2017 Newton County SPLOST Committee, said. "The committee learned early to make our message clear that this would not be a 'new penny' tax increase but a continuation of our SPLOST pennies that have resulted in many great projects for all of Newton County.

"During the campaign, the Vote Yes For Continued SPLOST Success committee promoted voting yes through using social media, providing online resources and presenting to civic organizations. The committee knows that the passing of this SPLOST resolution today is a wise choice and investment in Newton County’s tomorrow."