Chamber officials endorse SPLOST

Photo by Jennifer Parks

Photo by Jennifer Parks

ALBANY, Ga. -- In order for Albany to maintain its status as Southwest Georgia's regional shopping and entertainment center, officials with the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce say it is critical that the special-purpose, local-option sales tax on the table in November passes.

"It is certainly important to Dougherty County," said Jimmy Wilson, board chairman for the chamber. "Dougherty County citizens have been smart to continue the local-option sales tax.

"It's about the betterment of the community. Albany is and will continue to be the economic hub of Southwest Georgia."

The project list for SPLOST VI totals $98 million, more than $54 million of which is slated for infrastructure and technology improvements. Such projects are critical to keeping Albany the economic engine for the region that it is, officials say.

"We have to get this done," said Chamber CEO Catherine Glover. "If we don't we lose our competitive edge. It's essential to our future."

Tag studies done at the Albany Mall indicate that about half come from outside Dougherty County with a total of 51 counties represented.

Sixty-one percent of the recent Disney on Ice show's tags were from outside Dougherty County.

Among the business owners voicing their support for the 1 percent tax is Judy Randle, president of Central Monitoring.

"It's not just about shopping, its about supporting the community," she said. Of the 25 employees at Central Monitoring, 14 live outside of Dougherty County, Randle said.

Judith Corbett, former Merck & Co. employee and a 27-year Dougherty County resident, said she has seen the impact SPLOST can have. "It just makes good sense; it is a penny that is well spent," she said. "We've seen it provide results.

"I really believe in getting the best bang for your buck. It is a good process that has produced tangible results."

The results have been evident even for those that have not lived here as long, including Watson Spence attorney Alfreda Sheppard.

"SPLOST is so much more than what it says," she said. "It's all those projects we take for granted. It means a better life for us."

Since the first SPLOST passed in 1986, more than $394 million has been collected over the years. The current SPLOST, which expires in March 2011, is expected to generate more than $104 million.