If passed, the special purpose local option sales tax is expected to raise $750 million for Cobb County over its six-year term. The Cobb Board of Commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner Bob Ott opposed, on July 22 to allow Cobb citizens to vote on the SPLOST’s approval on Nov. 4.
According to a news release, the group will be known as “Secure Cobb’s Future” and will be co-chaired by Justin O’Dell, Dale Hughes and Darhyl Watkins. Steve LaMontagne, a partner at Moore Colson, is the committee’s treasurer.
The release was sent to the Marietta Daily Journal by Jeremy Brand, a political consultant who worked on Cobb Chairman Tim Lee’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Calls made to Lee late Tuesday were not returned by press time.
Brand also worked for Bob Weatherford’s successful campaign for the Republican nomination for the District 1 seat on the Board of Commissioners.
O’Dell said Brand would serve in a similar capacity for Secure Cobb’s Future, helping the group with data gathering and polling information.
In a joint statement in the release, the co-chairs said they are excited about the campaign and look forward to the work ahead.
“The projects in the 2014 SPLOST are lean and necessary to secure Cobb’s future,” the co-chairs stated. “This is an important opportunity to continue to do something positive for Cobb in regards to transportation, public safety and quality of life, and we cannot afford to let it pass us by.”
O’Dell, founder of Marietta-based O’Dell and O’Neal Attorneys, said he has advocated for SPLOSTs in the past and said the group has already had an organizational meeting.
“There’s the group of people that have supported (SPLOSTs) in the past and different working groups that have come together to support them. So, everybody begins talking about how we’re going to get the information out there to the voters,” O’Dell said.
O’Dell is a member of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and serves in a leadership position in the Kiwanis Club of Marietta, according to the release.
A Georgia native, Hughes has worked as a business consultant for 30 years, according to the release, and currently consults with communit-oriented businesses such as Atlanta-based Gay Construction and Kennesaw-based GTP Associates with his wife, Cindy, the release states.
Watkins has been a Cobb resident for more than 27 years and lives in the Smyrna/Vinings area, the release states. He is a member of the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority and serves on the Cobb Board of Elections in addition to his position as a global client advisor for the Oracle Corporation, according to the release.
Leading the anti-SPLOST contingent is Austell-resident Lance Lamberton, chairman of the Cobb Taxpayers Association.
“Unfortunately for Cobb taxpayers, the county has become overly dependent on SPLOST and is using it to pay for routine maintenance items which should be budgeted through other revenue sources,” Lamberton said in a release on the CTA’s website. “It is shocking to think that something like 98 percent of the Cobb’s Department of Transportation budget is dependent on SPLOST. Instead of being a special purpose tax, it has morphed into a permanent one.”