Citizens group urges sales tax extension for public safety - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Citizens group urges sales tax extension for public safety

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –A Dougherty County citizen's group urges voters to extend a Special Local option sales tax.

They say public safety in Dougherty County needs the one cent sales tax to better safeguard the community.

Police, Fire, and paramedics joined with the Citizens For Common Cents, telling people that Dougherty County's public service agencies need to move into the 21st Century in technology in order to save lives. But they also see infrastructure problems that have to be fixed.

Fire Station 3 on Holly Drive was built on a sinkhole in the mid-1980's, and now it is sinking. The cracks in the walls show the settling, so much this window shattered.

Firefighters still work there, even though the Fire Chief says it won't be long before the building is condemned.

Albany Fire Chief James Carswell said "We keep a close watch on it. Obviously we wouldn't put anybody in there if we thought it was a danger to them."

But Citizens for Common Cents says they feel the special local option sales tax is the best way to pay for replacing that fire station, and other needed public safety equipment upgrades, like new police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks that are reliable.

Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek said "But somewhere along the way we've got to replace equipment. We've got to move into the 21st century."

Sheriff Kevin Sproul says officers, judges, and people going to the Jail are not safe, because the parking lot is overcrowded and not secure.

Sproul said "That when our Judges come out there and they have sentenced inmates, that when they leave that parking lot they can get back into a secured vehicle."

All public safety head agree they need technology upgrades, like mobile data terminal computers in all patrol cars will increase efficiency, keeping Officers on the beat instead of in the office filling out reports.

 Albany Police Chief John Proctor said "I'm amazed at some of the things we don't have here in Albany, that I think we need. Other agencies already have."

And Citizens for Common Cents say that one cent sales tax is worth it to pay for public safety improvements to keep the community protected.

Pastor Victor Powell said "technology has all to do with the response time of all these emergency services. And it's the difference between life and death."

Another project on the SPLOST agenda if voters approve the continuation of the one cent sales tax, technology improvements at the 9-1-1 center. Chief Carswell said the most vital piece of equipment at the center there is 30 years old.

There are almost 16 million dollars worth of public safety projects on the sales tax list.

If it's approved Nov. 2, the penny tax will extend six years.

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