On Tuesday (or before with early voting) Pickens County will be asked to continue the one-cent sales tax by the county and cities. The plan would see most of this money going to the area roads with lesser but not insignificant amounts being directed to the library and emergency services.
We’d encourage our readers to give this a favorable nod on the ballot, though we advocate this with all the enthusiasm north Georgia shows for hockey and modern art. Yes, to continue the tax is the best choice, but it’s something we do regrettably.
A yes vote will give the county some substantial sales tax dollars to remedy potholes, cracked pavement and dirt roads. All it takes is a drive around the county and you will swerve, bounce and rattle over the evidence of need. The “hump” that forced the Ga. DOT to close the bridge on Jones Mountain escaped notice of most drivers as it seems about typical for north Georgia roads.
As explained by proponents of the SPLOST, the local sales tax cents are needed as the state no longer funds county roads like they once did. And that is true, but it’s not really a full explanation or excuse. The state didn’t one day suddenly stop letting the all pork fly. They began scaling back and our county and the city of Jasper (like many around the state) failed to adapt, simply throwing up their hands and saying roadwork is just too expensive.
Local leaders have yet to propose any plan that might have staunched the asphalt decay or prevent us from being back in the same situation when the SPLOST dollars expire in five years. The governing agencies didn’t seek cutbacks elsewhere, look for more effective ways to accomplish road maintenance or propose new ideas for raising revenue.
So, we are at the point that our roads are crumbling and cracking – a process greatly accelerated with the long, cold winter’s freezing and thawing.
We need to address our road problem right now by approving this sales tax. You would have to go back more than a decade, before Rob Jones was elected sole commissioner, to find a period of time where the county was not seeking or using a SPLOST. A one cent sales tax isn’t noticed on a daily basis. If it were to fail on Tuesday, it’s hard to believe shoppers would rejoice over the savings – keep in mind you only get taxed an extra $1 for every $100 you spend.
Even a $1,000 shopping spree at the Bargain Barn would only cost you an extra $10 for the SPLOST. (Of course, the schools also have a SPLOST in place as part of their general business plans.)
Individually the sales tax doesn’t impose much burden, but when you accumulate that penny-per-dollar for all commerce inside the county borders on every retail purchase, it adds up to some nice working funds. The courthouse was built with it; different schools have been built using sales taxes. The sales tax is a great way to fund things.
It is disappointing to see the commissioners using the “special” sales tax to fund routine maintenance. The position of commissioner used to be called the “road commissioner” back in the old days, and that former title should give office-holders a clue on what voters expect as top priority: keep the roads in working order.
The voters should trust the local road departments to see that this money is well used and, in exchange, the county and city leaders should respect what they are being given and plan on how to take care of it -- do not borrow against it or bow to vocal minorities on how it is spent.
For this SPLOST we agree the poor roads must be addressed. But come back again in another decade and ask for more special monies for routine work without some evidence of permanent stewardship plans and we’ll have a different answer.