Valdosta Daily Times

March 16, 2013

Confusion over local sales tax

The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — With so many sales tax initiatives being discussed these days, it’s no wonder citizens are confused about the many “OST’S”. Between the MOST, SPLOST, TSPLOST and LOST, many are, well, lost. Misinformation regarding the various sales tax options is bandied about in conversations, online forums, and in rants, and it’s no wonder, as it seems to be an endless season of tax discussions.

To recap, TSPLOST was the special purpose local option sales tax earmarked for transportation that voters defeated last year. MOST was to be a municipal sales tax collected solely by the City of Valdosta, but the request to initiate the tax was withdrawn from the current legislative session.

LOST is the local option sales tax and it only needed to be voted on once, which it was in the 1990s, and now comes up for automatic renewal. All governments from the five cities and Lowndes County have to decide on the equitable distribution of the proceeds from this tax, and for the last two cycles, have been unable to, so the issue is still in the court system.

SPLOST was defeated by voters last November, but the sales tax in the current cycle does not expire until Dec. 31 of this year, so for those confused about why they are still paying this one cent tax, the effect won’t be felt for several more months.

However, Valdosta and Lowndes County announced this week that they have already reached an agreement on how to split the funds from the tax, with voters given another opportunity to decide the issue in November. If the vote this time is yes, the sales tax will simply continue come Jan. 1, 2014.

If the city and the county want SPLOST VII to pass this time, the citizens will need far more convincing evidence of fiscal responsibility to include a pared-down project list than what was presented in 2012.

The community is tired of having to make personal sacrifices and cuts in their household budgets and need to see elected officials doing the same.