Commission to SPLOST doubters: Come grill us about tax . . . please
The Fayette County Commission is asking residents to grill them and county staff about the upcoming proposed core infrastructure Special Purpose Option Sales Tax.
The county wants to use its proceeds from the tax to pay for stormwater repairs and improvements in unincorporated Fayette County. As a pot sweetener, the county has pledged to halt collection of its stormwater fee for four years if the two-year sales tax is approved.
Citizens with questions on the SPLOST are asked to appear at the commission’s 7 p.m. meeting Thursday night to ask their questions on the record. The commission meets at the Stonewall county government complex in downtown Fayetteville across from the American Legion Log Cabin.
The SPLOST idea from the commission was born from a series of town hall meetings in which a number of county residents asked if the cities could be made to help share the funding for the stormwater repairs.
The county has identified 181 projects, including some critical dam projects that could result in the loss of life or damage to property downstream if the dams were to fail in the future.
Descriptions of projects including costs and other questions and answers are available at www.fayettecountyga.gov.
The commission issued a press release last week announcing the Q&A opportunity. In the release, Commissioner Randy Ognio noted that letters in the newspapers have accused the county of “not providing answers to questions and hiding things from the public.”
“We have consistently met with the letter writers and answered all their questions in the past, so we are asking to have the questions issued on the record and we will supply the answers in the newspapers and on the county’s website,” Ognio said.
Commissioner David Barlow noted that out of town shoppers would help with revenue for the sales tax.
“We all realize there should have been funding set aside over the years to cover these costs, but unfortunately that was not done and we are now faced with mounting problems that need to be repaired or replaced,” Barlow said.
Commission Chairman Steve Brown said having the questions published in the open will help address accusations that the county has deployed “smoke and mirrors” on the issue.
Commissioner Charles “Chuck” Oddo added that if the SPLOST passes or not, the stormwater problems will remain until they are fixed “and financing the projects will cost the citizens more money than the two years of sales tax.”
In a letter to the editor, Brown pitches the sales tax as a way to bring Fayette back to prominence in the metro Atlanta area. In the letter, he laments that Forsyth County “now takes the top honors with schools, median income and median home values,” and they are also attracting top job prospects, Brown said.
“One thing we have to achieve is getting our infrastructure back in working order,” Brown said. “It is difficult to regain the winning edge when you cannot keep essential elements functioning.”