In response to the Dec. 25, 2011, article in the FCN “Group: Use SPLOST for operating costs” I have just one question for the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia: Are you out of your minds?
Under the Georgia Constitution, SPLOST funds are limited in use to specific approved capital projects such as parks, recreation centers, jails, etc. The association would like to amend the Constitution to allow up to 15 percent of future SPLOST funds to be used for operation and maintenance of SPLOST approved projects.
The rational for this request is falling tax revenues due to declining property values make it difficult to fund operation and maintenance of capital projects. This may be a novel idea, but how about we don’t build capital projects such as parks, rec centers and jails unless we have appropriated funds out of the budget to maintain and operate them?
Don’t be fooled on this issue. Once a SPLOST project is completed it will forever have a cost associated with operating and maintaining it. If the association gets its way, with every SPLOST you approve going forward, you will be obligating yourself to an embedded tax of 15 percent of the total revenue of that SPLOST that can never go away.
Your government will use the entire 15 percent available to them, and will consider this a permanent new revenue stream, because that is how government works. You will be told in the future the SPLOST needs to be extended to cover maintenance and operation costs or the millage rate will have to increase to cover the costs. This is a back door way to a permanent tax increase no matter what you call it. It is a really bad idea.
The association wants the constitution amended in 2012. We need to contact our state representatives now to make sure we voice our opposition to this “sneak attax.”