Until recently, my intent had been to support the SPLOST, but then the Fayette Chamber of Commerce stepped in and that is the final straw, so to speak. The following seven points are for your consideration.
1. Having the vote in March assures that there will be a very low turnout. In my opinion, that favors a “yes” vote. The Chamber of Commerce and all of the city and county staffs are likely to support projects that will protect their business or jobs. A small voter turnout, but one that includes special voting blocks, will result in a “yes” vote.
2. Of the 600 or so projects that are on the list, many are well worth supporting. However, when the decision was made to go from a 4-year SPLOST to a 6-year SPLOST, a lot of “junk” projects were added. After reviewing the project lists, it is my opinion that we should be voting only for around $45 million worth of really needed projects.
3. The basic supporting document for the project lists is, in many places, vague. And most of us taxpayers remember what happened to us with the vague language that came with the West Fayetteville Bypass. If specific language does not limit the projects, or provide clear details of what is intended, they will have a fallback that it our fault since we voted for it.
4. There are a number of the projects on the combined lists that are there only because the local governing bodies failed to include adequate funding for maintenance in the previous years. For example, cleaning a culvert when first needed would prevent the need for total replacement, a much more expensive option.
5. With little money spent on maintenance, we had the announcements about how this or that council or commission stuck to a tight budget and they have not raised taxes. But then we, the taxpayers, are told that it is vital to provide special tax dollars for infrastructure projects to prevent, for example, a culvert failure.
6. With so much money available, voters are faced with the daunting task of voting yes or no on 600 projects. Who among Fayette County voters will have a clue about the majority of that many projects? That leaves us to trust our government, the same groups of politicians who are laying this decision on us when they will not do their jobs. Your reaction to them when they ask us — Trust us?
7. Once approved, there is little incentive for the cities or commissioners to seek public input on a project-by-project basis. After all, once we vote yes, they don’t need to know what we think.