Talking about issues

Danielsville Mayor Todd Higdon talks to Frank Ginn, who serves as executive director of the county industrial authority and the Georgia District 47 State Senator.

A number of county and city leaders gathered Sept. 26 at Jackson EMC’s community meeting room for a Chamber of Commerce sponsored “Meet-Your-City-Leaders” event.

Chamber chairperson Russell Martinez said the event is part of the Chamber of Commerce’s new motto “Connect and Grow” geared toward encouraging county officials, business leaders and others to work toward a better future for the county.

The special speaker for the event was Madison County Board of Commission Chairman John Scarborough, who spoke to attendees about the upcoming SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) and Sunday alcohol package sales referendums coming up in November.

Scarborough told the audience that SPLOST is “the best kind of tax” as it is paid by anyone, regardless of where they live, who makes a purchase in Madison County. He said the current SPLOST ends June 30, 2020 and this six-year referendum will pick up where the current one leaves off.

The SPLOST adds an additional penny tax on the dollar and brings in an additional $2 million per year in funding to the county’s coffers, according to Scarborough. The funds from SPLOST are earmarked for specific uses and cannot be used to supplement regular county or city budget funds.

The SPLOST is projected to bring in approximately $13,312,095 for the purpose of providing funds to pay the costs of capital outlay projects through an intergovernmental agreement between the county and the cities.

The lion’s share of county funds will go to the road department, Scarborough noted, in the amount of $5,455,000 spread out over the six-year period. Other recipients of SPLOST funding in the county include volunteer fire departments ($1,455,000) the sheriff’s office ($885,000), recreation department ($365,000), E-911 upgrades ($905,000), EMS ($715,000), Industrial Development Authority ($1,620,000), historic courthouse restoration ($50,000), coroner’s office ($60,000) and facilities acquisition and improvement ($190,000).

The city portions are determined by population, based on the 2010 Census. Each of the cities have pledged to use the funds for improvements to city water, roads, bridges and streets. Comer and Danielsville have allocated some funds for their sewer systems.

Scarborough said the county and cities depend on the funding for the needed improvements and if voters fail to pass the SPLOST, officials will have “to get real creative” on what to do to raise those funds.

“It’d be nice if we could use the upcoming 2020 Census (for projections),” Scarborough noted.

He asked those present to help get the word out about the importance of the SPLOST.

“We had to raise the millage rate the first year I was in office and I hope never to have to do that again,” Scarborough said.

As to the Sunday sales referendum, Scarborough said he feels everyone should have the opportunity to vote on the matter, adding that if it was voted down this time, it would likely be a long time before the board of commissioners take the matter up again. He did not that having the ability to purchase alcohol on Sundays was appealing to some of the larger businesses who might consider moving into the county in the future.

“Some of those businesses won’t come in without the ability to sell alcohol on Sunday,” he said.

Representatives of each city council were present as well as several candidates and incumbents running for office this year.

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