Of the $250 million slotted for transportation, only $94 million will go for road resurfacing and bridge construction. Interestingly, when comparing the last two iterations of the project list, you find that it costs $17 million more to fix four years’ worth of pot holes than it does to fix five years’ worth. More bathwater, I guess.
The rest of the transportation funding is used for medians and dividers, ostensibly for safety, but that, in reality, will reduce access to businesses located along those roads, perhaps forcing some to close.
Rounding out this part of the list are sidewalks along county roads (where no one walks), some new access ramps and turn lanes and several million dollars worth of transportation and engineering studies. The bathwater gets deep and murky when you realize that those transportation studies primarily are to warm up voters for yet another tax, the TSPLOST that will be even more insidious than this one.
On the shallow end of the tub is Public Safety. This is the part where the robo-call, disguised as a “voter survey,” asks if you would vote for the SPLOST if it supported our police and fire services. The implication is that if you don’t vote for it, you don’t support our hero police and firemen. That part of the project list gets a whopping 1.9 percent of the total. Only $9.5 million over four years — chump change to support the people who risk their lives for us every day.
Voting “No” on SPLOST will not cause the infrastructure to crumble, because only a relatively small amount of the funding is allocated for that purpose. It will not raise your property taxes, because if you don’t do the projects, you don’t have to pay for them. It won’t harm our triple AAA bond rating, because ratings are based on a variety of criteria; SPLOST is only a small part. It won’t drive businesses away from Cobb County, but reducing the sales tax might just bring some in.
To the contrary, your rejection of this SPLOST will give you a 16.5 percent sales tax cut that would provide the average family of four with enough extra money every year to make a car or house payment, buy a month’s worth of groceries or pay down credit card debt. That would go a long way in this era when Cobb’s unemployment rate is nearly 10 percent and its foreclosure rate is one of the highest in the nation.
The bathwater is murky indeed, but the only babies hidden under the surface are those businesses who will benefit from the patronage that this SPLOST represents: That handful of companies that will be doing the needless demolition, engineering and re-construction called for in this magnificent waste of our tax dollars.
So when you go to the polls, vote to throw out the bathwater — all of it — and don’t be afraid to throw out the “patronage babies” with it. They can take care of themselves.
Tom Maloy, grandfather of two, is a retired Cobb County business owner, past president of the Rotary Club of Marietta and a member of the Georgia Tea Party Board of Directors.