October 13, 2013

Voters will decide county’s future

October 13, 2013 The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — The passage of SPLOST has taken on even greater importance with the LOST tax currently in limbo. Valdosta and the other four cities in Lowndes collective unwillingness to allow the tax to continue at the current percentage allocations led to the legal entanglement now faced.

The Georgia Supreme Court’s recent ruling rendering the legal avenue the cities pursued as unconstitutional has left the tax’s current collection and future undecided. Until the state Attorney General’s office makes a recommendation to the state Tax Commissioner on how to proceed in light of the court’s ruling, the future of the tax, which goes directly into general operating funds, is uncertain. The potential of losing the LOST tax revenue, even for a short time, would be a harsh blow to the cities and the county. A one-two punch of losing both LOST and SPLOST would be devastating.

Valdosta is not alone in facing issues of aging infrastructure, necessary sewer upgrades and repairs, loan debt service and pension plan funding. A number of American cities are in the same financial fix, some more dire than others — the continuing ripple effect from the economic recession and sluggish recovery. Living large while times are good is not a concept limited to government, and financial difficulties continue to plague American families.

Just as many individuals are lamenting decisions made in better times to borrow from the future to finance houses, cars, boats, vacations and expensive non-essential items, so too are governments lamenting past decisions based on future forecasts.

Blaming officials for not foreseeing the economic downturn and planning accordingly is no different than blaming an individual laid off in recent years for being unemployed. Hindsight is always perfect when compared to reality.  

The future of Lowndes County lies in voter’s hands. Why vote no to SPLOST out of spite for prior decisions that may have put wants in front of needs. The reality is that those needs are real and necessary to the point that they must be addressed. All voters are deciding is the manner of collecting the money needed to do so. It can be a penny at a time that everyone pays on purchases, or dollars at a time in increased taxes and fees.

Voters have no voice in the LOST issue. It's in the state's hands. But voters do control the SPLOST issue. The county's future is in your hands.

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