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LETTER: SPLOST an investment that enhances quality of life

Dear Editor:

Newton County voters have endorsed the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for 36 years. For all those years, this 1% tax on anything spent in Newton County – including by our thousands of visitors each year – has provided funds to improve transportation, build and rehabilitate capital projects, enhance public safety, reduce debt and improve and add to quality of life projects such as parks and trails. These are investments that would not be possible within the confines of regular city and county budgets built on property tax collections. 

In early voting through Nov. 4 and on Election Day Nov. 8, Newton County citizens will be asked to vote for another six-year SPLOST referendum projected to produce $84 million for the county and another $24 million for our five municipalities and Social Circle, roughly a 78% county/22% city allocation.

State law is specific about how this consumption tax must be used. It is not a referendum on the popularity of a local governing body. Passage of SPLOST means that anyone who eats, sleeps or spends money in Newton County helps to fund measures that promote local progress and contribute to the quality of life for those of us who live here. There is no good reason to vote against SPLOST.

A priority transportation project in the 2023 SPLOST is $12 million dedicated to the widening of Brown Bridge Road, a daily nightmare for hundreds of drivers on the west side of the county. This cannot be postponed.  Other countywide road improvements will receive $8 million, with another $8.3 million for resurfacing. The Highway 278 Community Improvement District will receive $1 million. Public safety gets its due on the SPLOST with $9.5 million committed to replacing aging vehicles and another $2.4 million recommended for fire protection.

Parks will see an additional $3.5 million, and Newton Trails an additional $1 million. The library is recognized as a quality of life enhancement and is slated for some $900,000.  The county’s expanded animal shelter is set to receive another $1.07 million to further its improved facilities and services. The county will receive $10 million toward debt service. 

Other enhancements to the quality of life our citizens enjoy include parks on the west side, south side, District 5 and a community waterpark. R.L. Cousins Community Center is earmarked for $8 million for needed renovations to maintain this historical landmark while the Washington Street Community Center will receive $1 million to continue its facility improvement.

The recommendations before the voters were derived from months of debate by an appointed citizen committee whose recommendations were then debated by the Board of Commissioners.  The process ensures that both citizens and elected officials weigh in on the priorities that will contribute the most to an improved quality of life in Newton County.  The SPLOST committee eagerly solicits voters’ strong support for a continuation of SPLOST in Newton County.

Barbara Morgan, member

Newton County SPLOST 

Oversight Committee