Editor, I read the article “Concerns arise at millage hearing” in the Nov. 30 Coastal Courier, and I also have concerns.
I am among the citizens who voted “no” for the SPLOST in the last election. I am not ignorant of the effect this may or may not have on property taxes. However, my concern is the lack of transparency by our county officials when our tax dollars are spent. I am well-informed that we are continuing to pay yearly for bonds ($33 million for the Justice Center, etc.) that have been obligated with the taxpayers’ approval since 2008. I agree that some of the projects completed with SPLOST contributions were needed by the communities. I do question whether the funds were spent more carelessly because we had the extra SPLOST contributions. Did we really need all the bells and whistles that were added to our public buildings? Whatever happened to the new public library that has been promised since 2003?
We would have completed necessary projects as money became available. Instead, our leaders did deficit spending with monies that were not yet available. As my mother said, “Don’t count your biddies before the eggs hatch.”
I encourage citizens to read O.C.G.A. 48-8-122, O.C.G.A 50-6-32, and the other laws that govern this Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Strict accountability is required for utilization of the SPLOST by county officials. There can be no co-mingling with county general-fund monies. Where is the list of completed SPLOST projects and expenditures? By law, this information should be accessible on one easily searchable webpage. I urge our officials to look at the Augusta Richmond County SPLOST
webpage and use it as a guide. We must be able to trust our public stewards and elected officials.
I would like to know how much of the E-SPLOST actually went toward educational improvements for our students. Has anyone ever taken a ride on the Liberty Transit System? It is a nice idea, but how much has it cost our taxpayers so far?
— Dianne Hilliard