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Your Views: Consequences of public apathy could be felt in SPLOST vote
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Few people take an active interest in government affairs, though I challenge each reader to give me one example where government is not involved in your life, directly or indirectly. I have asked that question since 1986 and have yet to receive a viable answer.

People are busy meeting the daily demands of living so they don’t even bother to vote. Some feel, “what good does it do?” Or, “I am only one vote.” Some have a sizable mistrust of government altogether. That is a choice that you have to make.

There are consequences to this behavior. Based on the behavior of voters in nonelection years, turnout will be a lot lower. This is an indictment on those who choose not to vote and of those who may use this behavior for their own ends.

Starting Feb. 23, voters have a choice about a special purpose local option sales tax. Let’s buck this trend of apathetic voting. Let’s take a look at this SPLOST vote that culminates March 17.

You are voting on two things. First, $158 million in SPLOST revenue, a lot of money, to say the least. But what is different is that you also are being asked to give the Board of Commissioners authority to issue bonds to pay for this SPLOST. So it is really a two-part vote: one for the sales tax and one for the authority to issue some kind of general obligation bond.

Bonds typically run many years. Nowhere does it say when or how long the bonds will be issued for. Is it five years over the life of this SPLOST or more requiring another vote for a SPLOST VIII just to pay the debt service?

It is my understanding the debt service for Mulberry Creek will be paid should SPLOST VII be approved, though it doesn’t say the debt service will be paid in full. Also, the vote does not dictate just how much money the bond can be issued for. It could be $158 million; we don’t know.

I recall in June 2011 writing a letter urging a compromise on the property tax debate during the fiscal crisis. Commissioners decided to vote no on any property tax hike when it amounted to about $7-$8 on my property tax. As a result, more than 90 people lost their jobs, parks and libraries were closed and furlough days occurred. The board did not show any sense of compromise then and it doesn’t appear they are doing so now.

On the ballot you have one choice. It is an all-or-nothing vote. Since the board is spending $65,000 for this nonelection-year vote, it could have included several options.

I will let you read the specific projects that are being given. The Times has run a series of articles for this purpose. I encourage you to read the list and take a critical look at what an apathetic public is getting itself into. Just don’t let the consequences reach out and bite you. Get out and vote.

David Williams
Gainesville

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