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Our thoughts... Passing SPLOST
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Times are tough, and pennies must indeed be pinched.

It would seem at first glance that opposition to the $57.6 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is understandable. Some of its expenditures are questionable and the lack of leadership by the county in compiling the list was abysmal.

But pennies add up, and when you do the math, it makes good sense to support the one-cent sales tax when this SPLOST is put to a vote on March 15.

It comes down to this: There’s no better, more equitable, way to pay down county debt and provide for much-needed infrastructure improvements such as roads than through SPLOST.

It’s an equitable way to spread the payment around for items that benefit the community as a whole. Industries and folks from outside our county who visit and use the services of Newton County restaurants, gas stations, grocers and other retailers help us pay for our infrastructure.

Without SPLOST, your property tax bill would likely rise precipitously. No county resident would be immune, as landlords would be forced to pass along their additional tax burden to their tenants.

We, like many of you, have voiced our displeasure with the lack of leadership in compiling this SPLOST, and with some of the items to be funded. Some seem extravagant (think $1.1 for an ag youth facility and another $1.1 million for parks and a multi-purpose social service center in District Four) in tough economic times, but in the long run, this SPLOST will save us all money and position Newton County for the economic rebound that’s sure to come.

So let’s set our frustrations behind us, and focus on the benefits:

- The penny sales tax will pay off $8 million in debt service.

- SPLOST will pay for needed infrastructure improvements, with $25 million in roadwork.

- $4 million will be dedicated to expanding the emergency room at Newton Medical Center.

- $7 million will be dedicated to expanding the judicial center, and $2.5 million will go to buying vehicles needed by county government.

That $8 million in debt service has to be paid, with or without SPLOST. Where would the money come from? The county tax digest is already under pressure as foreclosures and the real estate market meltdown force down property values.

This SPLOST is imperfect, no doubt.

But money is tight, budgets are squeezed, and local governments are hard-pressed to provide adequate service as tax digests fall.

For a penny on the dollar, buying stuff you need anyway, you and everyone else who shops in Newton County pay for basic infrastructure items and pay down our county debt through SPLOST.

It’s a no-brainer.

We need this SPLOST to pass.