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Our thoughts... SPLOST priorities
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A bit of how political life happens in D.C. occurred last week in Newton County.

Just in time for Christmas, Mort Ewing and the other Newton County Commission members in a 4-1 vote approved a $57.6 million SPLOST list. We’re concerned that, like Congress, the commission has submitted a list that includes too little debt pay-down and too many unnecessary projects at a time they can be least afforded.

There is $8.5 million in the SPLOST to pay off debt, and that’s what it should be targeting. There’s also $17.28 million in road projects and $7 million for expanding our judicial center, expenses Commission Chair Kathy Morgan says the county will have to pay regardless of whether SPLOST passes or not.

But Ewing, who generally is a fiscal conservative, pushed through a list that also contains:

- $1.1 million for an agricultural center that will eventually incur additional expenses to run and operate each year.

- $1.5 million for the Miracle League field

- $1 million to upgrade parks

- $400,000 toward the Porterdale Gym

And in District 4:

- $200,000 for a park in Dinah Place

- $200,000 for a park in Settler’s Grove

- $100,000 for playground equipment for Victoria’s Station

- $545,000 for a facility to be run by the Newton County Minister’s Union

Parks are nice, and we do have a strong agriculture heritage in this county, but now is not the time to commit taxpayers to such additional burdens.

SPLOST (a special purpose local option sales tax) will be submitted to the public in a referendum on March 15.

Some say regardless of the pork, SPLOST is too important not to support. We disagree. We are going to do our homework and figure the real cost to Newton County taxpayers for this tax commitment before we make that sort of judgment.

You should, too.