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Weadick: SPLOST investment in community
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There has been substantial debate regarding the proposed Newton County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, over the past weeks and months, but the merits of passing a six-year extension to the 1 percent county sales tax are difficult to ignore, namely the $57 million in funding for vital public works and programs in our community.

The expansion of Newton Medical Center’s emergency room is just one of numerous projects that will receive funding from the tax, so as Newton Medical’s CEO, I have a vested interest in its passage.

However, as a member of this community, I am also invested in the growth and development of Newton County, which will also be supported by the passage of SPLOST. It’s for everyone.

Newton Medical Center provides a health care safety net for the community.Therefore, the expansion of our ER will benefit everyone, which is the explicit purpose of SPLOST.

Nationally, the Center for Disease Control reports that one in five Americans has sought treatment in an emergency room during a recent 12-month period.

This increased usage pattern is similar at Newton Medical Center, where the total number of ER visits has been rising steadily.

Since our last renovation in 1993, the Newton Medical Center emergency room traffic has increased from 18,000 visits to more than 43,000 in 2010.

SPLOST will allocate $4 million to fund the renovation and expansion of our ER, increasing from 16 to 28 treatment rooms.

The positive impact that this would have on Newton County is significant.

The two most noteworthy benefits are that new jobs would be available in both the local construction and medical industries, and people coming to the ER would experience less wait times in an enhanced facility.

Our expansion is just one of the projects tht will be funded if SPLOST is passed. Newton County citizens would also reap the benefits of new roads, new services and many other improvements that will help to create jobs, build revenue and advance our quality of live.

No tax is ever greeted by constituents with overwhelming approval, and the current state of the economy certainly does not encourage parting with our heard-earned dollars.

While valid arguments have been made both in support of and against SPLOST, the bottom line is that funding for the country is critical and we will ultimately pay in one way or another.

SPLOST is not a new tax but merely a continuation of an existing tax.

We can support SPLOST, or risk the chance of higher property taxes, increased cost for services provided by under-funded programs or simply the reduction of services available to our community.

Voting yes for SPLOST is a way for residents, as well as those living outside of Newton County, to invest in our community and ensure that essential needs are met.


James Weadick is administrator and CEO of Newton Medical Center.