On Tuesday, voters across the county – whether they live in the corporate limits of Richmond Hill or Pembroke or in an unincorporated area of the county – will decide the fate of the special purpose local option sales tax. And for the sake of infrastructure, recreation and emergency service projects, as well as many others, we hope the majority chooses to continue the one percent tax that is largely funded by non-Bryan County residents.
The special purpose tax in this county began nearly 25 years ago and has funded a laundry list of projects that are used – if not enjoyed – by residents on both ends of Bryan. Hendrix Park in North Bryan, Henderson Park in South Bryan, public safety vehicles, street lights, water/sewer projects in Pembroke, the Dixie Harn Community Center/Miller Teen Center in Pembroke and the Richmond Hill City Center are just some of the items that were made possible by SPLOST funds in the past.
In the future, this tax could pay for improvements to both Hendrix and Henderson parks, including air-conditioned gyms, concession stands, walking trails, picnic shelters, splash parks at Hendrix, tennis courts at Henderson and more.
And those are just the recreational projects. SPLOST, if approved, will also help pay for renovations to the county courthouse; eight ambulances and a fire station for County Emergency Services; public safety vehicles for the sheriff’s department; debt servicing on sewer/water project; roads, streets and bridge projects for the county, Richmond Hill and Pembroke; and a new public library in Richmond Hill.
That’s a lot of stuff. But SPLOST generates a lot of money – $33 million over the next six years, according to county officials. And most of that, as we mentioned before, most of that is paid for by people who don’t even live in Bryan County. Ray Pittman, who’s been heading the local SPLOST advisory committee that’s been working to promote the tax, told the North Bryan Chamber of Commerce recently 60 percent of SPLOST dollars are generated at gas pumps – and we all know it’s not a bunch of locals getting in line to fill up the tank at the truck stops and travel centers. It’s the roughly 70,000 drivers traveling up and down I-95 every day.
So if you enjoy any of the county’s recreational facilities, or the streets you drive on, or the water that flows to your house and the sewer that flows from it – or any of the other services SPLOST has helped the county make a reality without having to raise property taxes for county residents, we hope you will agree with us: SPLOST is worthy of another six years.