Local officials are urging us to vote for a new round of SPLOST in an effort to take care of some much needed infrastructure work. Bridges and roads, communications systems and a whole host of other things are on the list to be paid for out of SPLOST funds should the voters step up and agree to continue paying into the government coffers. Personally, I’m generally more amenable to a consumption based tax than most other forms of taxation anyways, so I should be pulling for SPLOST to pass, right?
You see, the problem with SPLOST isn’t the way it’s collected, or even what this round is supposed to be spent on. In truth, after reviewing the list of projects, I found little that was objectionable to me. However, what I did see was a whole host of things that probably should have already been taken care of out of our existing tax revenue.
Instead, we’ve paid for housing projects that should have had more oversight, downtown managers who should have had more oversight, and a government that hires consultants and outside experts at the drop of a hat, to say nothing of attorneys from outside to handle lawsuits that are the result of the city government messing up again. All of those funds could have easily gone towards some of these projects. There are a myriad of ways a government can be financially responsible, and the governments of Albany and Dougherty County just haven’t done it.
In many ways, they’re like the child who still comes to Mom and Dad expecting their bills to be paid because they just didn’t bother to pay them. They want money, and the parents have to say “no” to help them learn a valuable lesson. Government isn’t any different. They know that whenever something comes up, they can just SPLOST it and spend their usual tax dollars however they want. We need to teach them to live within their means, and that includes telling them “no” from time to time.
One day, the time will come when we need SPLOST and there really isn’t any other option. Had we had a fiscally responsible local government all along, I would feel that this could count as one of those times. We don’t have that, and we won’t have that either. If we did, the first vote on Cutliff Grove would have been to recoup as much as possible and we wouldn’t have needed a second vote. The next vote they made in that regard would have been something to prevent a future city commission from doing anything as idiotic again.
As a community, we need to make a stand against the idiotic policies that make it so vital to pass SPLOST this time. Show me some common sense in managing money, and I’ll change my mind. Show me that people and experts are being hired from outside only when there’s no other choice. Show me that consultants are being brought in only as a last resort. They show me some responsibility, and I’ll support giving them some more money.
Until then, should SPLOST pass, I’ll consider moving my shopping dollars up into Lee County as much as possible. It’s not because I want Albany to fail, but because I so desperately feel the need to help it right the wrongs and succeed instead. That won’t happen when money is being flitted away. We have to identify where we can cut costs and focus our tax dollars in the most responsible way. If they won’t do that, I simply refuse to be an enabler.
Of course, if the city rights its course, I’ll be happy to change where I spend my money in a heartbeat.
Written by Tom Knighton. Read his blog at TomKnighton.com, as well as SWGAPolitics.com. A lifelong political junkie, Tom started out his adult life as a journalism major at Darton College before leaving school to serve his nation as a U.S. Navy Corpsman. Through the years, he has watched government from outside and inside. A former Reagan supporter, then later a Democrat, Tom now finds himself quite comfortable as a card carrying Libertarian and currently serves as Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Southwest Georgia.