Editor, On July 31, all citizens in the 12th Special Tax District can vote to decide if we will pass TSPLOST and pay an extra 1 percent sales tax.
TSPLOST would supposedly last 10 years. However, as we have seen with SPLOST, such taxes seem to last forever. The 1 percent tax would apply to most purchases, including groceries but not gasoline. The 12th Special Tax District consists of Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Screven counties.
Many may be surprised to learn that the Georgia sales tax is only 4 percent, but with local add-ons, you may have noticed that we already pay more than that. Nine of the 10 counties have a 7 percent tax, and Glynn is at 6 percent. What will it mean to the taxpayer? If you spend $40 in a restaurant, you will pay only 40 cents more – every time you eat out. According to the Department of Agriculture, the average family of four spends between $771 and $954 per month on food. That amounts to about $8 to $10 per month in additional tax. Need to buy new clothes for the kids? Eight percent tax on $300 will be another $24 per child annually. After a while, those little tax hikes begin to add up. But suppose you need to replace your car or truck? The TSPLOST will add $300 in tax to the cost of that $30,000 pickup for a total tax bite of $2,400.
The Republicans and Tea Party are doing all they can to try to reduce government spending and taxes, and here our Legislature is trying to increase taxes and give the politicians more “free” money to spend — supposedly some of it in this county. This comes just prior to a possible tax Armageddon which is due Jan. 1. The Bush tax cuts are set to expire, huge Obamacare tax increases, a higher alternative minimum tax, a 3.8 percent tax when you sell your home, plus three or four more tax increases go into effect that day. It is estimated the average family will have a $3,800 tax increase next year. But a 1 percent sales tax increase won’t matter, will it?
What exactly is TSPLOST? Most taxpayers will not have heard about it until they get into the voting booth. It lumps all taxpayers in the special tax districts together. If the voters of District 12 approve the measure, the measure will pass for the entire district even if this county does not approve it. Some propose that the measure is unconstitutional.
How will this money be spent? Projects are selected by a regional roundtable consisting of the county commission chairman and one mayor from each county. These roundtables already have selected the projects. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds for the district will be spent on projects approved by the roundtable. The remaining 25 percent will be sent back to the counties for transportation projects selected by the local governments. So in effect, a county is guaranteed to get back only 25 percent of its tax money. This county will have only two of the 20 votes in the roundtable, which will decide how the other 75 percent is spent.
Google TSPLOST to learn more about it, and you will see there is a concerted effort to pass the measure. You will see that it is not the panacea for all of our transportation needs that its proponents claim. It really is just 1) more tax, 2) more bureaucracy, and 3) a usurpation of the rights of citizens and counties.
Urge everyone you know to vote “no!”
— Doyice Cotton, Statesboro