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Leave SPLOST funds alone

By   /   February 26, 2013  /   Comments

The Dougherty County Commission wants to replace the roof on the Northwest Library.  Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t oppose every expenditure, and this is one I have no issue with.  What is an issue is that commissioners want to use SPLOST funds earmarked for utility relocation.

Folks, there’s something a little disturbing about the commission rerouting SPLOST funds.  You see, we voted for SPLOST funds.  We voted for them to go to certain projects.  None of those projects this time around was a new roof for the Northwest Library.  My concern, and I’m pretty certain that I’m not alone in this, is that this could lead down a slippery slope where the commission gets into the habit of using SPLOST funds for stuff we have never voted on.

Not that it really matters.  There are a lot of problems with how SPLOSTs are presented to the public for voting.  The vast majority of people will never look at what they’re voting for.  Even in Albany, people trust their elected leaders for some silly reason.

The commission, to their credit, are at least cautious about how this will look to the public.  Unfortunately, it has more to do with the fact that they shut down two libraries recently and are worried that people will jump them over that.  Now, that can be dealt with.  SPLOST money isn’t a long term solution, so even if they had redirected that same money to keep those libraries open, then it would do nothing but to delay the inevitable.

However, they should still leave the money where it is.  Yes, the state Department of Transportation changed their rules so that we don’t have to put the money all upfront before the project starts.  So what?  We’ve got it, it’s earmarked for that, and it needs to stay there.

County leaders, like most other government officials, are fond of SPLOSTs.  Maybe they should put the Northwest Library roof on the next SPLOST referendum and issue bonds against that future tax money like they have on so many other projects through the years.  That makes me a lot less uncomfortable than to redirect funds that are earmarked for one thing to be spent for another.  I don’t care what state law may say, a basic sense of right and wrong tells you this is a bad idea.

Tom Knighton is the Editor and Publisher of the Albany Journal.

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Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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