GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- A new Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is under consideration by voters in next week's general election in Gwinnett County.
The SPLOST is supposed to replace an existing SPLOST that runs out early next year. The new tax is expected to rais about $478 million.Traditionally, SPLOSTs are used to generate funds for specific projects, in many cases for education or other capital projects.
The new SPLOST in this case,is coming under fire from a number of individuals who say that supporters are pushing a very small educational earmark in order to get a much larger portion of the measure through.
"The very idea that we have to worry about this kind of thing and say it in the same sentence as public schools is a terrible thing, but it's where we apparently are in our modern world," said Gwinnett County Commission Chairperson Charlotte Nash.
The educational measure falls under the public safety portion of the SPLOST -- $5.5 million -- which pales in comparison to the $70 million to be used for upgrading fire and police equipment.
The majority of the overall SPLOST would be used for transportation across Gwinnett County -- improving roads and other infrastructure. Opponents say to highlight the small portion tied to safer schools is emotional blackmail.
Steve Ramey, head of the Gwinnett Tea Party is actively campaigning against the SPLOST, in part, because he says he worries it is just a long list of pet projects.
"I've seen it happen so many others times when taxes are wanted to do projects they always use the kids. And I think its very sad that you prey upon the feelings of a parent somewhere in order to get it accomplished like that," Ramey said. "If its so important there should have been money brought up a long time ago. Sand Hook was what a year ago and we're still waiting and we haven't done anything more for our kids here? How come?"
Nash counters by saying financially, the SPLOST is the commission's only option to raise the necessary funds.
"Unfortunately we're talking about $5 million," she said. "That may be a relatively small dollar figure with the budget but we've got calls on all the dollars that are in our budget at this time."
With days to go before the vote, opponents are kicking up their campaign, scheduling at least one more town hall meeting to discuss the SPLOST before Election Day.