Should Madison County keep its one-cent sales tax to fund various community improvements?
That’s what local voters will decide Tuesday in a “Yes-or-No”-referendum on renewing the county’s one-cent special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST).
Voters have shown little interest in the matter so far, with just 444 or 2.6 percent of the county’s 16,841 registered voters offering a thumbs up or down to SPLOST. As of mid-day Wednesday, the Madison County Registrar’s Office had 310 ballots cast in the office in the government complex and had received 134 out of 194 ballots issued by mail.
“The turnout has been light,” said chief registrar Tracy Dean.
But voters can still cast an early ballot this week. Early voting runs through Friday at 5 p.m. at the registrar’s office. A valid ID is required. There will be no early voting Monday, but on Tuesday, Nov. 5, the county’s 11 polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If voters approve the renewal of the one-cent tax, nothing will change with local purchases. The tax is not an additional penny. But a “Yes” on SPLOST will mean that a variety of county and city improvement projects will be funded over the next six years. A “No” will mean that people making purchases in Madison County will pay one penny less per dollar for the next six years. It also means improvement projects won’t be funded through sales taxes for six years — or at least until a “Yes” vote on another referendum attempt.
Madison County leaders expect to bring in $12.39 million in sales taxes over six years if the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) is renewed. Over half of the money — $6.49 million or 52-percent — will go to road improvements.
The tax, if renewed, will fund water, sewer and road improvements at the county and city levels. There will be purchases of ambulances and patrol cars. There will be equipment and vehicle upgrades for local volunteer fire departments. There will be radio upgrades for the county 911 center. There will be facility and equipment upgrades at the recreation department. The transfer station will have equipment improvements. And more money will be tagged for renovating the upstairs of the old county courthouse. The county currently has $90,000 set aside from the 2008 SPLOST for those renovations.
Madison County Commission Chairman Anthony Dove said he feels SPLOST is an important revenue generator for the county.
“I just feel the continuation of the one-cent SPLOST is essential for the long-term financial health of the county and in not adding any additional burden on property owners of the county,” said Dove. “Our county’s good financial health is key for maintenance and operation of the county’s law enforcement, emergency, fire, EMS and road maintenance. It’s also important for the financial health of our cities.”