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I have voted "yes" for SPLOST referendums in the past, but I am going to have to vote "no" on Tuesday due to the questionable administration of funds from past projects. I do not feel that the funds have been used to the best interest of all Gainesville and Hall County residents.
I admit there are good projects that would be beneficial to everyone, but several remind me of the pork projects we see in the proposed federal budget. Maybe shortfalls in funding for some local projects could be alleviated by more emphasis on better financial management by elected officials.
Many households in the area are suffering due to the economy. Many of us have to restructure our household budgets to meet our obligations each month. Today's household income is what we consider in meeting our financial obligations and planning for future expenses. We don't make out a wish list for the future until we know we can meet today's obligations.
I admit I am lacking when it comes to the logic involved in financing a level exceeding a household budget, so some recent expenses by our local governments leave me confused and bewildered. A parking deck to provide 200 more parking spaces at a cost of only $6.15 million does not sound like a bargain when you consider each additional space cost $37,000.
I agree we'll probably need a pedestrian bridge over Queen City Parkway from the development on the old Town View Plaza property. But why now? Property owners and taxpayers on the southeast side of Gainesville in the New Town Community have been crossing Queen City for years at crosswalks with obviously not much consideration by the city as to their safety and convenience. We have a large area of the newtown community built on an old landfill, and I am sure taxpayers would like to be included in SPLOST to seek solutions to health hazards they face.
I have no doubt the referendum will pass. Sunday's issue of The Times was saturated with ads and articles encouraging a "yes" vote. When I picked up my edition of the paper, I walked through a thick layer of dust created by the sewer project on Mountain View Road. I imagine that was instituted for the needs of the proposed Mundy Mill Development, which now resembles a ghost town. I voted for the last referendum that in a large part funded this project. Now our cars, houses, driveways and practically everything we own are covered with dust from an unpaved section dug up for the sewer.
Since the 1 percent sales tax I voted for helped fund this, I thought it reasonable to ask the city to wet down the construction area to alleviate the dust problem. I was informed that they could not do this due to the water shortage, even after I offered to pay for the water.
Yes, there good things about SPLOST. I agree with building a new North Hall library and upgrading equipment for our fire and police departments to continue the excellent service they provide. So I will not feel I lost my vote by voting "no" Tuesday. I will look forward to future elections when we can evaluate candidates on their ability to manage the financial needs of our city and county more feasibly.
Frances L. Cato
SPLOST is Hall County's own stimulus plan
In an attempt to shed some light on the virtues of SPLOST, it occurs to me that if we pay too much attention to negative thoughts and actions, we will certainly fall victim to doing nothing, or worse, reversing our forward progress to date. We truly live in the best community and county in the southeastern United States.
SPLOST has brought us to where we are now in the realm of parks and green space, recreation, road improvements, tremendous traffic "untanglings" and intersection improvements. We are fortunate to have available for all the Elachee Nature Center, Spout Springs Library, the Farmer's Market, Health Department and the necessary landfills.
Since 1985, the list of quality of life improvements is impressive. The Hall County community at large has benefitted exponentially from previous SPLOST projects. In this uncertain time in our history, the urge is to run to the storm cellar and surface only when and until the sun comes out. But if we do this, we will give up our vision and forward progress, only to stand in amazement and scratch our collective heads and wonder why we did, in fact, refuse to help ourselves. We as a community are smarter than that.
We have a chance to help ourselves in the midst of uncertainty especially at the federal level. We can't lead that parade, but we can lead at the local level. Self help is the best help. Let's help ourselves and our community by voting "yes" for SPLOST and for our families and children's future in Hall County.
We have made a difference with SPLOST in the past. Let's make a positive difference and commit to moving Hall County forward by voting "yes" for our own stimulus package.
More tax money sought so rich can get richer
Folks the time is getting close for the SPLOST VI vote in Hall County. Everywhere I look, I see "Vote for SPLOST" signs. It is very evident why all these signs are at commercial locations rather than individual homes.
Paul Harvey was right when he said "Corporations do not pay tax; people do." He was simply emphasizing the fact that businesses pass the tax burden on to you and I, the consumers. Consumers, of course, cannot pass the cost on to anyone else since we are the final users. Businesses have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and that is why they promote SPLOST VI.
Folks, whether you like it or not, big business runs this country. We are being asked by that Hall County Commissioners to approve this SPLOST VI sales tax extension to provide funding of $53 million for water and sewer improvements, 17 million for courthouse rehabilitation as well as millions for other projects.
It is interesting that the water and sewer in South Hall is not a "sewer to nowhere" as some have said. In reality, it is a sewer to Ga. 53 and Ga. 211 in the Chestnut Mountain area, where Commission Chairman Tom Oliver and his family own about 700 acres, according to county tax records. The proposed sewer project will most certainly benefit him in the future.
As a result of the upcoming SPLOST VI vote, the commissioners are asking the taxpayers of this county to take on more liability. It is high time folks to wake up and vote against SPLOST VI and demand more accountability and integrity from our commissioners.
In light of the recession, this vote should have been rescheduled for a later date. At the very least, the $17 million for courthouse rehabilitation could be done later, as well as more study an investing the majority of the sewer and water improvements cost in the North Hall Ga. 365 corridor, where industrial and residential growth is expected, rather than the "Oliver area" of Ga. 53 and Ga. 211.
Paul S. Barnes
Sales tax will help fund safety building for city
I want to ask each of you a question. How would you feel about living or working in a home or business that was built in 1975, and it was constructed for approximately 40 people? What if this space was never expanded, it had very few renovations, and there were more than 130 people now occupying this space. The picture is not very pretty is it?
Furthermore, what if closets and jail cells were being used for offices, only two spaces existed for public parking, and the people who work in this facility were responsible for the safety of each of us in the city of Gainesville? I hope you would answer that they deserve a better place and the city deserves something better.
Through the leadership of our City Council, in conjunction with Hall County commissioners, we will see a new home in the near future that will resolve many of the problems with our police and fire stations on Jesse Jewell and our municipal court. The future location on this state-of-the-art facility will not only provide resources to maintain our safety and quality of life, but it will also serve as a great stimulus to the redevelopment of our Midtown community. The need for this facility has long been determined, but the question at hand is how do we pay for it?
Suppose you live or work in that aforementioned building built originally in 1975. The time had come to replace it and you could do one of the following: a) You and your neighbors could pay to replace it through your property taxes, or b) the cost is shared by everyone through sales tax and approximately 40 percent is paid by people outside of your county.
I have never been the best at math and finance, but I think you would agree that "b" is the answer. Let's hope that a little "common sense" leads to some "good cents" for our community. Vote "yes" for SPLOST on Tuesday.