During a meeting between the Board of Commissioners and the county’s mayors last month, Lee asked the mayors if they supported a six-year SPLOST. All said they did, with the exception of Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, who was absent.
Next, Lee asked the four district commissioners. Commissioner Helen Goreham said she supported a sales tax renewal for that length of time, but the other three said they needed more time to consider the idea.
Commissioners will vote July 22 on whether to call for a SPLOST referendum on Nov. 4, the length of time the tax would last and the list of projects it would fund.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid expressed her support.
“I would hope the public would support a six-year SPLOST because it enables us to do more,” said Cupid, who represents south Cobb.
“But I understand why there may be some concerns about having a six-year SPLOST. Having a six-year SPLOST means you’re committed for six years, and you’re committed to one thing and not to doing something else.”
Each commissioner has prepared a wish list of projects for his or her own district that would be funded by a cut of the projected $750 million SPLOST haul. All say they configured their lists based on the six-year projection.
“My list turned out to be a six-year SPLOST list. But I put on it what I thought were needs,” said Commissioner Bob Ott, southeast Cobb’s representative. “So, I looked less at how many years it should be and more at what are the needs of my district are.”
Ott said he would look at the final list and determine if the projects on it were “needs” rather than “wants” before saying for sure how he would vote.
“It appears to me the votes are there to make it a six-year SPLOST, so I have gone through the project list as if it is a six-year SPLOST,” he said.
Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, whose district includes parts of Marietta and east Cobb, said her list already exceeds the amount her district would expect to collect from a six-year renewal.
“Of course, those lists are changing daily with input from us and staff,” she said, “but I feel like in order to do the projects we need, I’m leaning toward six years, but I’m still waiting to see the final list and input from the public.”
Residents can weigh in on what projects should make the list’s final draft during public hearings scheduled over the next two weeks in each of the districts.
Goreham said she supports a six-year tax “because SPLOST has been proven to be a great economic tool that helps keep our property taxes low and provides the best product and service to our citizens.”
Lee said the county needs the money. A six-year tax would “enable us to be a little bit better planners and execute the program,” he said.
Lee said he was hopeful the four district commissioners would come out in favor of the longer SPLOST renewal option.
“They seem to be heading that way,” he said. “But time will tell.”