The Bartow Tea Party sponsored a forum Saturday to discuss the T-SPLOST Tax Referendum, a topic that soon will be voted on throughout Georgia.
According to www.t-splost.com, T-SPLOST stands for Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Each of Georgia's 12 regions will vote on July 31 whether or not to pass an additional one cent sales tax for their region. The tax would last for a scheduled 10 years and work to improve transportation across the state of Georgia. Bartow County is included in Region 1 -- Northwest Georgia.
Organizing the event Saturday was Gail Engelhardt -- the Director of the Bartow Tea Party -- to speak against T-SPLOST, which she considers an "ill-conceived idea."
"The reason why it is ill-conceived is the fact that none of the projects are fully funded," she said. "It's worse to start a project that you can't complete than it is to start it in the first place."
Event guest speaker Field Searcy -- a volunteer from www.traffictruth.net -- agrees.
"The problem you are going to see is a lot of the projects are not fully funded," Searcy said after the forum. "So you are going to get to the point 10 years from now ... we have all these improvements that are not complete." Searcy suggested that the tax would have to continue more than 10 years for the projects to be completed. "It's just a downpayment."
According to www.t-splost.com, the economic impact of the tax referendum is projected to be $1.487 billion in revenue. The site -- sponsored by the Yancey Bros. Co. -- said "a cent tax will fund our future and add jobs for thousands of Georgians."
The other guest speaker for the event -- Jack Staver, also believes differently.
"It's not a permanent, full-time job. It's not," Staver said after the event. "If we get real big construction projects, they'll ship people in from all over the place because that's how construction is. So, it's not an employment boon like they tout it to be." He suggests more time for planning.
"We get two more years to correct this," he said. "I think we can get real legitimate projects that really do help the people, that we really do need."
As for Searcy: "My goal was to inform people about the dangers of regional governance and public-private partnerships that are over and beyond this 1 percent sales tax we're gonna have for the next 10 years [if passed].
"We do need to something about traffic, but it needs to be a different kind of list and I think it needs to more locally managed than a regional management."
Attendees at the event included Sen. Barry Loudermilk and several Bartow County citizens currently running for office, who came to express their opinion on the proposed sales tax.