Tea Party favors tax? In Senoia, they do
One of the issues Coweta County voters will decide on at the March 6 Presidential Preference Primary is whether to continue the local 1-cent sales tax (SPLOST). Coming out in support of the initiative is the Senoia Tea Party Patriots (STPP). STPP coordinator Joe Cannin in recent statements provided the organization’s position on supporting the continuation.
Cannin drew a distinction between the continuation of the county SPLOST and the vote on the multi-county transportation TSPLOST measure to be held on July 31. The regional vote represents an additional 1-cent sales tax that encompasses the 10-county Three Rivers area. The Senoia Tea Party Patriots group supports continuing the local 1-cent sales tax but is not supporting the regional TSPLOST sales tax.
Cannin in stating the organization’s position said that most people have an immediate aversion to voting for a tax initiative. He noted that the current local 1-cent tax funds local projects, with the proceeds distributed proportionately based on population. Those revenues then go to fund local projects that would otherwise require funding through other taxation methods such as increases in the millage rate. If voters elect to support the extension of the local SPLOST those revenues will continue to fund local projects, Cannin said.
If approved by voters, the continuation of the local SPLOST over six years would carry a maximum collection ceiling of $120 million for a variety of recreation, public safety, information technology and road improvement projects in the county’s municipalities and unincorporated areas.
For Senoia, that would mean recognizing a maximum of $3.12 million for projects that include $1.25 million for transportation improvement to city roads, streets, bridges and sidewalks, $1.25 million for parks and recreation, $300,000 for public works, $200,000 for a public safety early warning siren system and $120,000 for city hall improvements.
Cannin was adamant that the local SPLOST is not just a tax dependent on purchases made by Coweta County residents.
“For each person, including shoppers from other counties who shop and spend money in Coweta County, the sales tax is collected and we benefit. According to the City of Newnan, the collected SPLOST for 2010 was $17.9 million for Coweta County. From that, Newnan received its 25 percent of the SPLOST revenue ($4,484,644) from the county. Through several studies we know that 40 percent of the revenue the county received is from other counties. That means for the year 2010, the county received $7.16 million SPLOST dollars from other counties.”
For the STTP group, the idea of having local and out-of-county residents helping contribute to Coweta’s sales tax revenue to fund local projects is preferable to the alternative.
“The question is, do we drop the local SPLOST to reduce the local sales tax by 1-cent and possibly have our local county and city taxes increased to offset the revenue lost for expenditures that may occur in the future or for continued increase of costs for maintaining our roads that will be used more heavily as our population increases?” Cannin asked. “Or do we vote ‘Yes’ for the one cent tax that we have been paying since 1994 and therefore take advantage of the additional sales tax revenue like the $7.16 million provided by shoppers from other counties and allow local governments to use the money on special projects that will keep the county and cities attractive to bring new businesses and families to our county for the nice roads, parks and playgrounds, just to mention a few?"
Speaking for the Senoia group, Cannin reiterated that continuing the current SPLOST does not amount to a new tax as some in the Coweta community have stated. Cannin added that statements by some that voting the extension down would result in a $500 per year savings amounts to not stating the case concisely.
“You will hear the argument that you could save $500 a year by not passing SPLOST, but that is not totally accurate. The truth is in the actual numbers. If you spend $50,000 a year on SPLOST taxable items that would mean you paid $500 to SPLOST. How many of you spend $50,000 a year on SPLOST taxable items?” Cannin asked, noting that an average family’s largest expenses, such as mortgage, vehicle and insurance payments do not include a sales tax.
Cannin also advocated for residents of the various Coweta communities getting involved in their local government, attending meeting and voicing their expectations to elected officials.
“We have the responsibility to hold our county and city governments accountable. As citizens we have more influence on our local government than we do on the federal government,” Cannin said. “It is the federal government who needs to stop the spending, institute no new taxes and be accountable to its citizens. It’s the state that we don’t want to raise the state sales tax to 4 cents. The anger that we feel and are expressing against the federal government and state government is valid and real. But we are in more control of our county and city governments and we need to think rationally about what affects us locally. Don't let misplaced anger affect your decision on voting for SPLOST. They will tell you that there is too much spending. SPLOST is supposed to be spent on special projects and our county and city officials have used that money in accordance with the State of Georgia SPLOST guidelines. Some will use the ‘cut the spending’ and ‘no new taxes’ hatred to get people to vote against this. We have better leverage over our local governments than that of our federal and state governments and we will hold them accountable for what is spent. Our county and city officials are doing an outstanding job as compared to that of our federal government that is $16 trillion in debt.”
The Senoia Tea Party Patriots was formed in the summer of 2010.
“We’re interested in local, state and national issues. We want to educate our members on what is included in the candidates’ platforms so that they can be better informed when they go to vote,” Cannin explained at the organization’s inception.
For more information visit www.senoiateapartypatriots.org.