Mayor John Weaver and Commission Chairman Rob Jones discuss the one cent sales tax.
County and city officials told members of the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning that continuing the one-cent sales tax is the only way to address the widespread road paving needs throughout the area.
Also speaking on the theme of “improving Pickens County one penny at a time” was Mike Denson of the Economic Development Council.
Jasper Mayor John Weaver said the road problem here is becoming epidemic. The mayor said the state DOT and developers had funded much of the road construction and in stronger economic times the state funded regular maintenance. “Now the state with so many needs sends not quite enough,” Weaver said. He estimated that he would have to double the tax rate in town to collect enough revenue to cover what the one-cent SPLOST will provide for city road maintenance.
County Commission Chairman Rob Jones said the sales tax referendum, which voters will see on the May 20 ballot, is projected to collect $30 million between the years of 2014-20 from local cash registers – one penny at a time.
Of the projected revenue, $14.4 million will be directed to county roads; $6 million will be for city of Jasper roads.
Other spending measures are county public safety: including new fire stations, fire trucks, sheriff vehicles and other items projected at $5,987,000.
The library will receive $2 million. Water and sewer will see $800,000. The city of Nelson will receive a projected $729,000 and the city of Talking Rock $66,000.
Jones told chamber members that unlike previous SPLOSTs where items were funded based either on a tier system or at the governing authorities’ discretion, this one will be different from the start. Jones said each month all collections will be divided based on set percentages so that all the items will get their allocated share.
Jones told the business people gathered at Chattahoochee Tech that the infrastructure needs addressed in this SPLOST are crucial for further economic expansion. “You have to have a way to get around,” Jones said referring to the roads’ needs.
Jones also pointed out the dire shape of some roads, noting that some people in the audience had probably spent money on car alignments due to the growing number of potholes.
Mike Denson, speaking from the economic development council, said there is a competitive field to attract any new businesses and having sales taxes in place to fund infrastructure is crucial for Pickens.
“If this SPLOST doesn’t pass, we are going to be so far behind other counties in our ability to chase businesses,” he said.
The speakers were part of the March membership meeting of the chamber. For more information on the SPLOST spending priorities, see last week’s Progress or the article still available online at www.pickens progress.com