There’s not much interest in whether the county renews a one-cent sales tax for county improvements, or whether Sunday alcohol sales are approved. Less than two percent of the county’s registered voters have cast a ballot in early voting.
As of Wednesday morning, 374 people had cast a ballot (356 in the elections office and 18 by absentee). There are 20,179 registered voters in Madison County. Only 1.9 percent have taken advantage of early voting at the county Board of Elections and Registration Office.
“It’s disappointing,” said Tracy Dean, Chairperson of the Madison County Board of Elections and Registration.
The ballot has two referendums, including a “Yes” or “No” decision on continuing a one-cent sales tax that will bring in over $13 million for county and city improvements if approved. There’s also a referendum on allowing Sunday alcohol sales in the county between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
All early voting takes place at the Board of Elections Office, 94 Spring Lake Drive, Danielsville. Voters should bring their picture ID to vote. There is no Saturday voting in this election. For more information, call the Board of Elections Office at 706-795-6335.
The one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), which 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 tax is not new, but the continuation of a one-cent tax that has been in renewed every five to six years for decades.
If renewed, the lion’s share of county funds will go to the road department 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 totaling $1.5 million split between municipalities 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.
County commission chairman John Scarborough said the tax is a fair way to generate revenues for the county.
“When goods and services are purchased in Madison County, by local residents or anyone passing through our county, the one cent tax that you approve in November will go toward improving efforts in the road department, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire and rescue service….without any additional burden on property owners,” he said. “It is important to remember this tax is not in addition to the current SPLOST, it simply continues that benefit to the county for six more years after the current SPLOST expires next June. Please make every effort to vote, and please support the 2020 SPLOST referendum on the November ballot.”
The City of Comer has the county’s lone contested municipal election Nov. 5. Tommy R. Appling and Laura Minish are challenging incumbent Howard Threlkeld for the District 3 seat on the city council. The town is also holding a referendum on Sunday alcohol sales within city limits between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.