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SPLOST vote failure would impact taxpayers, officials say

Photo by Terry Lewis

Photo by Terry Lewis

ALBANY, Ga. -- Mayor Willie Adams and Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said this morning that failure to pass a new special-purpose local-option sales tax referendum next month would have a negative impact on Dougherty taxpayers.

Adams and Sinyard, as the chief elected officials of the city and county, respectively, said they couldn't officially advocate for passage of SPLOST 6. They conducted a news conference at Sinyard's business, Adams Exterminators.

So, they presented numbers.

-- Two-thirds of the projects on the list are either federally mandated or urgently needed infrastructure upgrades.

-- Forty percent of the sales taxes paid in Dougherty County are collected from out-of-county residents.

Without the sales tax, the burden of paying for the projects would fall on Dougherty taxpayers, they said.

Dougherty County voters will decide whether to enact a new tax when they vote in the Nov. 2 general elections. If approved, the 1 percent sales tax would go into effect in 2011 when SPLOST 5 expires.

Click here to see the full SPLOST VI list.

"This is not a new penny. This is not a new tax," Adams said. "This is just a continuation from 1986. Previous SPLOSTs have raised more than $390 million dollars in the past 25 years. One hundred and thiry million dollars of those funds came from people who do not live in Dougherty County, but use our infrastructure.

"What we are saying is let people from outside the county help pay for these mandates and upgrades. If we don't do it we are doing a disservice to the people of Albany and Dougherty County."

Sinyard agreed

"SPLOST VI is very important to the people of Dougherty County," Sinyard said. "It is a big deal. Not everyone agrees with all of the projects, but people have to understand that two-thirds of the project list is either mandated by the federal government or urgently needed infrastructure improvements.

"If we don't have these SPLOST funds, then the entire burden of paying for them will fall upon the taxpayers of Dougherty County."

Sinyard then pointed out one of most visible benefits of the SPLOST money.

"Every fire and EMS station built in rural Dougherty over the past several years was paid for with SPLOST money, otherwise those facilities would not be here today." Sinyard said. "SPLOST VI will help us keep what we have and to keep growing. Not having that penny would be very detrimental to our citizenry. It is critically important."

Adams echoed Sinyard's sentiment.

"Many of the items on this project list are meant to keep jobs in Dougherty County," the Mayor said. "SPLOST money helped bring WalMart to East Albany because were were able to afford the infrastructure upgrades to meet their requirements."

The choice, Adams added, is really a simple one.

"Either we continue to pay a penny now, or we'll pay a nickel later."