Albany-- Forty-two projects and $108 million are at stake in a Dougherty County sales tax referendum. Critics say the list of projects doesn't do enough to help voters in the poorest communities.
SPOLST V opponents say the one-cent sales tax is spinning out of control. "We think it's time that the voters take a tax break," said William Wright, a member of the Taxpayers for Fairness and Equity and SPLOST, a group opposing the referendum. "This is sort of like sending a toddler into a candy store and saying get what you want and let the poor pay for it. Having the poor pay for it and then not giving them some kind of reasonable equity and fairness and is what we're fundamentally against," he says.
"We're not seeing fairness and equity in the way they have the taxes proposed to be allocated," says William Wright.
Wright says projects like relocating the Northwest Library and debt retirement of the civic center won't do much to help those who need it most, Dougherty Countians with the lowest incomes. "You look at the projects only about 5% will ever get back to the poor. The rest of it is going to go into mule barns and the Parks at Chehaw," Wright claims.
"Anybody can pick out one of two projects that they don't like but what you have to do is focus on the entire projects and there's something in there for everyone," says Len Dorminey who is one of the four board members of the Citizens for Good Cents.
He says voters can't afford not to pass SPLOST 5. "Seventy percent of SPLOST proceeds will be used to fund infrastructure improvements for our city. These are improvements that will have to be done whether or not we pass SPLOST," said Dorminey.
Plus Dorminey argues that since so many out-of-towners do business here, 40% of the $108 million the six year tax is supposed to rake in won't even have to come out of pockets of Dougherty Countians. "That's about $43 million will be paid for by citizens living outside of Dougherty County. We cannot afford not to accept that gift."
The current SPLOST IV sales tax will expire in March, and it will be up to voters to decide if they will put their one-cent sales tax back to work.
Both groups will hold informational meetings for the public next week.
The Citizens for Good Cents will meet at the Riverfront Resource Center Monday at noon.
Taxpayers for Fairness and Equity will meet at the Civic Center Tuesday afternoon at 4:00.