Last week it was the Senoia Tea Party Patriots that came out in favor of the continuation of the Coweta County 1-cent sales tax that goes before voters on Tuesday. This week it is the Coweta County Tea Party saying the March 6 initiative should be defeated.
Speaking for the Coweta County Tea Party, David Stover said continuing the local 1-cent tax, along with similar local taxes for education and the longstanding local option sales tax, is akin to an addiction that should be broken.
“The SPLOST taxes add a tremendous burden onto the citizens of our county during a time when the economy is not doing well and every dollar counts to the individuals of our county. The State of Georgia currently has no tax on food sold in the state; however, the three SPLOST taxes that we currently have are added to every single item that is purchased within our county. This means that currently you are paying 3 percent of your total food cost every month in SPLOST taxes. SPLOST is a twenty-six year old tax that local governments have become addicted to and the addiction needs to be broken,” Stover said.
Stover maintains that SPLOST initiatives are “sold “ to the public with the idea that out-of-county shoppers will generate substantial tax revenues. He insists that the statistics used are often exaggerated. Citing the University of Georgia’s Georgia Guide, Stover said that, in reality, this means that the county residents buy more from outside of county than outsiders buy within the county.
“(And) SPLOST initiatives are often sold to the public on the basis that it is just one penny, but those pennies add up,” Stover said. “The typical family will pay several hundred dollars of tax over the course of a SPLOST.”
As an example, Stover noted that yearly local spending of $12,000 results in $120 in sales tax paid. Over a period of five years that amount increases to $600, Stover added.
Recounting what he described as the history of the 2007 SPLOST initiative, Stover said county officials promoted the tax as a way of offsetting a rise in property taxes.
“When the last SPLOST was passed in 2007, Coweta County officials told us that we had to pass it or our property taxes would have to be raised. Shortly after, the Central Library was built (and) the Coweta County Commission raised our taxes because there was not enough money to pay for the salaries of the additional employees they had to hire,” said Stover. ”Why do we even begin to believe that they will not raise our taxes if we do pass SPLOST again? If they did it once before, they will do it again.”
Stover also maintains that SPLOST is a liberal idea.
“SPLOST was enacted in 1985 under a Democrat Governor and passed by a Democrat State House and a Democrat Senate. Just like all taxes passed by liberals at the local, state and federal level, the tax becomes a necessity instead of ‘Special’ once enacted,” said Stover. “Liberals tend to justify the tax by saying that our schools will fall apart or our roads won’t be drivable, we need more recreation facilities, we have to have more libraries, all the while wasting your hard earned money on unfunded mandates once these projects are completed. How are they unfunded?
SPLOST only allows you to build facilities and do road maintenance, etc., but you are not allowed to pay salaries out of SPLOST funds.”
The bottom line, said Stover, is that it is time for the Coweta County government “to give us a break and stop with the tax and spend ways of the past. Our growth has come to a halt, why are we continuing to spend money that our citizens do not have?”
The vote on the continuation of the Coweta County SPLOST will be held March 6.
Originally printed in “The Citizen” – http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/03-04-2012/coweta-tea-party-opposes-local-splost