Written by: Taylor Stone
Have you noticed any new local or area projects around the Valdosta community lately? Chances are, you have noticed the new Gornto Road Extension at the intersection of Woodrow Wilson Drive and N. Patterson Street, but who paid for the $1.9 million project? You did because it was funded by SPLOST revenue.
The “Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax,” often abbreviated SPLOST, is executed and levied at the county level. It is used as a way to raise funds for specific projects around the community such as improving streets and roads. The SPLOST tax is simply added to the base sales tax rate, usually at a rate of one percent. So, with a passing vote by the public, a normal tax rate of six percent will increase to seven percent on everyday purchases.
A one-percent increase may not seem like a lot to contribute toward funding capital projects, and supporters of the tax believe it is necessary in times of budget cuts to spread the financial burden among members of the community.
According to the Valdosta Daily Times, Lowndes County SPLOST funds are allocated to roads, streets and bridges, water/sewer, public safety, parks and recreation and general facility improvements totaling nearly $150 million over the next six years with $80 million going to the city of Valdosta and $63 million going to the county with the remaining funds going toward the other four cities of Lowndes County.
Individuals who oppose SPLOST are concerned about where their money is truly going and question the “improvements” that their money is going toward within their community.
Both sides of the argument seem to be valid, each proposing questions that will affect everyday life one way or another. The real question is if you trust the leaders in your community to take your money and use it for warranted improvements that will truly make a difference.
1 percent turns into $150 million pretty quickly.