There is one week of early voting left for the 2017 SPLOST referendum. Those who wish to vote early may visit Suite 103 of the county administration building at 1113 Usher St. through Friday, March 17. Voting hours are from 8am to 5 p.m. Voting on the measure at your individual precincts falls on Tuesday, March 21 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
As a refresher, the SPLOST is a local, optional one percent sales tax on all goods and uses sold in the county, no matter who does the buying (visitors or residents). The SPLOST “penny” is already a part of the 7 percent sales tax we currently pay in Newton County. This vote is not for a new penny; it is to keep the penny that is already there. The projection is that the pennies from the 2017 SPLOST will total close to $65 million over the five-year collection period. This total is split between the county (which gets 78 percent) and five cities – Covington, Oxford, Porterdale, Mansfield, and Newborn, which get the remaining 22 percent proportionately according to population.
All the monies raised by a SPLOST must, by law, be spent on the projects listed in the referendum language on the ballot. The funds cannot be shifted to pay for other projects that are not on the list. Last fall, a citizens’ committee made recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, who, in turn, fine-tuned them and passed the resolution that is now before the voters. Eighty-six percent of the final list is to be spent on projects that fall under the categories of transportation (road and bridge improvements), debt reduction (those allowed to be reduced per SPLOST law), and public safety/public works.
Members of the citizens’ committee formed a ballot organization called “Vote Yes For Continued SPLOST Success” to inform the public and encourage passing the resolution to continue the penny tax. We encourage anyone who has questions regarding SPLOST to contact us. You may do so using the Contact Us menu on our website, www.voteyessplost.org, by posting on our Facebook page. Additionally, we will be hosting a second Facebook live event this Wednesday at 6pm that will answer many of the common questions we have heard.
Baxter Bouchillon is the chairman of the 2017 Newton County SPLOST Committee.