A Case for Voting YES for SPLOST VII

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

(The following is commentary from Mike Hill)

SPLOST is the wrong target for a tax protest.  Those should be aimed at the federal government which wastes enough money to drown Valdosta in hundred dollar bills. 

I don't like taxes any more than anybody else, but I'm voting for SPLOST VII because if my house catches fire, I want the fire department showing up with shiny trucks and modern equipment.   I expect clean water in the sink and treatment plants with plenty of capacity to handle it on the other end. I expect the sanitation department to have everything necessary to pick up my garbage, yard trash and recycling and for the police department to have a modern crime lab. 

I especially want those companies evaluating Valdosta/Lowndes County for new locations to be reassured that we have the infrastructure to accommodate them, because we need the jobs.

Walk through parking lots at Wal-Mart, the Mall and elsewhere and count tags from Cook, Lanier, Berrien, Clinch and even Madison counties.  Or count the 50,000 vehicles passing through on I-75, many stopping to leave pennies.  We can argue about how many pennies come from elsewhere for these things, but it's still a lot of pennies we don't have to pay in property taxes.  And no, our sales tax revenue won't increase without the SPLOST penny, people aren't now shopping in Tallahassee or Jacksonville just to save a few pennies, so dropping SPLOST'S penny won't result in people coming back  to increase sales tax revenue, as has been claimed by opponents.  

I guarantee that without SPLOST, property taxes WILL increase.  I'd much rather surrounding counties continue to share our infrastructure and improvement costs than to have that expense loaded onto the backs of our homes.    

We won't always agree on how SPLOST or any other tax is spent, but to target individual projects as a reason to kill the entire SPLOST is like killing the milk cow because you don't like one leg.  Personally, I like the idea of a new library and civic auditorium, especially since it would turn Five Points into the most attractive gateway to the city, but that's only a small part of SPLOST. 

For all the money spent on houses and the importance of the decision, which house to buy is heavily influenced by emotion.  For all the evaluations and analysis a company or industry does for a new location, humans still make the final decisions and I guarantee those decision makers are heavily influenced by how much they like a town as a home for their people.

The appearance of Five Points makes a difference and so will a town that appreciates the value of a modern library and civic auditorium and builds them.  There's no adjacent property on which to enlarge the existing library and auditorium and both have been outdated and undersized for many years. 

Aim tax protests at the big dollar problems in Washington and let the pennies down here improve our town.  We'll all be better for it.