As backward as it sounds, voting for SPLOST VII is a vote against an animal shelter. Approving SPLOST VII means the earliest we will see a new animal shelter is sometime between the years 2017 and 2019.
Here is why:
SPLOST VII is not a new tax, it is a continuation of an existing one. Revenue from SPLOST VII will not be collected until SPLOST VI expires in July of 2013.
SPLOST VII is estimated to be $200 million collected over 6 years.
The first $101 million is dedicated to the new courthouse and jail expansion.
The ballot will ask voters to approve borrowing (bonds) the first $89 million to start on the courthouse and jail.
All other projects will be on hold until they are fully funded. By law, the county will not be able to borrow the funds to build a shelter.
In other words, a yes vote on SPLOST VII means the county will start collecting money in July, 2013. For the first 3 years all money collected will go toward the projects in Cumming. After that, it will be up to the board of commissioners as to what projects they want to fund and in what order, or even if they ever get done.
In December of 2010, the BOC approved the construction of a new animal shelter. That approval was rescinded, thanks to Commissioner Patrick Bell, who has publicly stated his opposition to a county owned shelter. By adding the shelter to a SPLOST, the BOC can now postpone building an animal shelter until 2019, and claim that the voters approved the delay.
Overall I support a SPLOST to expand the jail and build a new courthouse. But I cannot support this one; there are just too many political paybacks and private meeting deals. For example: Does anybody else wonder why the only road improvement projects on the A list for District 4 are all within a few miles of the commissioner’s house?
This SPLOST needs to be defeated. That will force the BOC to bring us a proper one in the general election of 2012. After all, none of this takes effect until 2013 anyway. The BOC will have a year to get it right.