It’s a yes or no vote.
Will voters extend the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST VII) another six years to fund a new jail and courthouse along with a list of other identified capital improvement projects totaling $200 million dollars? Or will they say no to the one per cent sales tax, ending a string of six SPLOSTS in Forsyth County dating back to 1983?
SPLOSTS are prioritized by elected officials and are paid through sales in the county. Once approved, the county is obligated to complete all SPLOST projects. The Intergovernmental Agreement between the city of Cumming and Forsyth County for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) VII program was approved July 21, 2011 by both the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and the Cumming City Council.
SPLOST tax renewal proponents say upwards of 38% of that revenue will come from those who visit the county and will not be paid by residents. Those opposed refute that figure saying there are no studies by county to support that percentage.
In addition to the new jail and courthouse, the remaining $100 million of the SPLOST VII provides funds to widen Castleberry Road to four lanes, expansion of the existing Sharon Road library, road improvements and park maintenance.
Representatives from two organizations posed cases for and against SPLOST VII Monday night at a townhall hosted by the Forsyth County Republican Party at the Forsyth County Senior’s Center in Cumming. At the center of the discussion was the proposed $100 million designated to build a larger courthouse and an expanded version of the jail at the current property in downtown Cumming.
Almost one hundred in attendance heard from Steve Voshall , Chairman of the Forsyth Tea Party, who questioned the timing of the SPLOST this November instead of during the 2012 General Election; ‘lack’ of public input during twelve publicized work sessions, the widening of Castleberry Road when other roads are more travelled, and the wisdom of burdening taxpayers struggling financially during a double digit recession.
David Seago, co founder of Citizens for Progress, encouraged using the recession’s current competitive construction and materials costs to build now and cited the county’s costs to house inmates in other counties. “We don’t plan to go out and borrow 100%. We can use our Triple A bond rating in the state, one of two (counties) to get the lowest interest rate right now…The costs to house inmates in other counties right now is between $35 -$55 per day. Atlanta wants $103.”
“It is shockingly huge, ugly, and a total eyesore and will ruin our downtown landscape. This is not what we want our City to look like and this is not what we came up with a few years ago when hundreds of business leaders worked on the Vision 2020 project for the Chamber,” said Voshall, shaking his head in disapproval.
Each side included experts. The pro side included County Commissioner Brian Tam to help answer questions submitted by the audience, who added his support to the continuance of the SPLOST. In response to a comment about lower cost options to improve safety at the prison, Commissioner Tam stated that “Cameras don’t protect: just document--very inefficient. Right now we have 3 beds high in some and women are 36 to 1 toilet.” Commissioner Tam also addressed the challenge to widening Castleberry Road by reminding that Bethleview Road is scheduled to be widened and that will increase traffic subsequently on Castleberry in the future.
On several occasions, Voshall referred to SPLOST VII as ‘a pet project’ directing his comments to Commissioner Brian Tam explaining that requests for maps and studies, and offers of options were ‘ignored’, and photos were revealed only after early voting had already begun. “Why not have town-halls in all communities followed by a straw poll?” asked Voshall.
Commissioner Tam was quick to say the photo of the jail was published in the spring and Voshall was encouraged to review the information on the county’s website early on and to attend the publicized work sessions beginning in April.
Voshall received applause several times mentioning tea party principles of fiscal responsibility, particularly ‘no new taxes’ and finding other means to needed courthouse and jail improvements. “I don’t..we don’t like the Pelosi way of finding out what we get after we vote,” Voshall said firmly. “We need to act like Republicans and show fiscal responsibility when we’re in a double digit recession. The SPLOST is a tax.”
Seago cautioned that if the SPLOST does not pass the only way to pay for the same projects would be through the general fund or increased property taxes.
YES TO SPLOST VII
Comments submitted to CummingHome.com by DAVID SEAGO, Co-Founder of Citizens for Progress
“(SPLOST) was for a vote for a new tax in 1983 but it is a renewal now,” assures Seago. “It is the continuance of the SPLOST passed by voters…This is a ‘meat and potatoes’ SPLOST.”
FINAL WORD: “Renewing SPLOST provides for public safety, transportation and facilities improvements that are vital for economic growth and job creation in Forsyth County. If you look around the country and around the world, you will find the communities that make efficient investment in creating safe communities, with great roads and other critical infrastructure are the communities that continuing to prosper and see job growth.”—David Seago
CITIZENS FOR PROGRESS is a non profit citizen advocacy group charged with the mission of educating Forsyth County voters about the SPLOST. It is supported by individual and entity donations.
NO TO SPLOST VII
Comments submitted to CummingHome.com by STEVE VOSHALL, Founder of Forsyth Tea Party
“The SPLOST VII is a tax and it comes out of your family’s income and budget. A 1% tax will cost your household about $3,125 over six years. That is about $500 per year from your family’s budget for the County’s budget. And remember we could have 3 separate SPLOSTs on the books by 2013.”
Final Word: “As taxpaying citizens we deserve to be given the information to make good decisions and an informed vote. So far, the same Board of Commissioners who wanted to give themselves “Benefits” until age 65 after they left office, want us to just take their word on needing a new jail and a new courthouse. We will not support a $200m tax only to find out later what the jail will look like, that there are other options that could save us money, that roads that don’t need widening are being widened over roads that do need it, that our court house could be added onto and with renovation be improved upon to satisfy our needs. Our elected officials need to start acting like fiscally responsible officials and not like the Federal government officials.”—Steve Voshall
The FORSYTH COUNTY TEA PARTY , is a non-partisan grassroots organization of individuals united by core values derived from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America, the Bill Of Rights as explained in the Federalist Papers
32 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
"SPLOST tax renewal proponents say upwards of 38% of that revenue will come from those who visit the county and will not be paid by residents."
Folks this is poppycock, hooey, fantasy. Do you honestly believe that more citizens of all other counties in Georgia visit and shop in Forsyth then Forsyth County citizens shop at the Mall of Georgia, Gwinnett Mall, Northpoint Mall, Dawsonville Outlets, etc?
This is a ridiculous scam used to ply on your human emotion of avarice - wanting something for nothing from someone else.
" “Renewing SPLOST provides for public safety, transportation and facilities improvements that are vital for economic growth and job creation in Forsyth County. If you look around the country and around the world, you will find the communities that make efficient investment in creating safe communities, with great roads and other critical infrastructure are the communities that continuing to prosper and see job growth.”—David Seago"
Again folks this is poppycock, hooey, fantasy. Communities that are growing through the creation of wealth and savings invest in infrastructure. The infrastructure does not precede wealth and savings. The new jail and courthouse construction will not provide appreciable job growth or economic stimulus in Forsyth County.
How many heavy construction workers are just sitting around waiting for a project to start in Forsyth?
Is the public unsafe now? No. It is a specious argument.
Job creation in Forsyth County is dependent on the total cost of creating a job in Forsyth County. When you increase taxes and subject the citizenry to higher cost of living, you inhibit job growth.
Folks. They are feeding you a line of _ in order to tax and spend your money to lard upon their friends. They don't tell you the truth and keep you in the dark.
My kids are 17, 15, and 12. My 17 yr old was pulled over and locked up for 12 hrs for not having his billfold. This corrupts sheriff dept has a lot to splain to the jury when time comes.
Tag light ticket and failure to maintain lane.
Tag light works and no white lines for a failure to maintain!
Build a new jail for what?
Darlene. There is a hugh Amish crime wave right now across the county. Perhaps the Sheriff's Department believe it will bleed into Forsyth County.
We do have a great need for a new jil. We also need our courthose completely redone. Both are very old. However, the timing is really not right to do either now. This election is very costly! This SPLOST should have been more widely publicised with plans for the new jail and the courthouse re-do with pictures in the paper and available for all of the citizens to view. 2012 or even 2013 is soon enough to put on the ballot.
It seems to me, it would make sense to build a new jail and courthouse in the county away from the town limits. It could be designed to handle all safty problems, Court, jail room and parking for the next fifty years. Sell the high price property in town for developement. This would then be a tax asset instead of a town liabilty. The new developed area could have a special theme, that would attract tourist. The old courthouse could become a Museum, History and Tourist Center.
Nobody cares that your snowflake got pulled over. Quit mothering him and tell him to man up. He was driving without his license. That is against the law. A few hours in jail never hurt a teenager, it's a character builder and he now has a great story to tell his buddies. When I was a kid we wouldn't have told our mommies about it.
Have your husband explain it to you.
Tell your kid to remember the rule: A good friend will bail you out of jail. Your best friend will be sitting beside you saying "Damn, that was fun!"
Now...Can we stick with the topic at hand which is SPLOST VII?
Seago and the pro-tax forces are promoting a lie. He says the jail expansion will save the county $10 million a year because the county would no longer have to house its prisoners in other counties. He also said he got that estimate from Sheriff Ted Paxton.
But somebody isn't telling the truth. Paxton told members of the Republican Party last year that expanding the jail would save less than $2 million a year.
And the pro-tax side is using the same scare tactic the school board used this past summer. Remember when they said if the SPLOST didn't pass they would have to raise taxes? We were naive enough to take them at their word and we passed the education SPLOST. Then they raised our taxes anyway.
Don't let them fool you again. Vote no on SPLOST 7.
A tax is a tax is a tax. If we approve this tax extension and than add the regional transportation tax we will be one of the counties with a higher tax rate which instead of attracting this supposed 38 percent out of town tax payers, we may chase away out of town tax payers and in town payers.
The amount of money projected is equal more than 2 years of out anunal budget. That is a lot of money to give the local politicians who will find a way to spent it. Why are they is such a hurry to get this on the ballet, because most folks do not vote in minor elections so a few who want more taxes,will decide for all. If this was really needed it would be on the ballot when we are voting for national office when every one goes out to vote the same time the regional transportation tax will be voted on...
You give politicians money and they will spend it!
A tax is a tax and then we can discuss the items that seem to always be included on these project lists. There always seem to be items that the taxpayers will have to continue to fund such as parks, senior centers, libraries. Will it ever end? Policiticians spend our money with little regard to how hard we work to earn it. If they want all these projects, perhaps they should dig in their own pockets to fund them or at the very least have the guts to put in on the ballot during the general election.
I think the board and the city have their own agenda, and they think we are stupid enough to bite on their splost tax. If these people were living on social security they would change their tune in a second. NO TO SPLOST!!! This is Obamba care all over again. VOTE NO
This is 'snow flake' for your information. I got in trouble because I did not have my I.D. on me. The 4 cop caars held me on the road side for 45+ minutes. I play football at FORSYTH. What they did to me and my reputation is unforgivable.
This message is to Bob, The On Site Degenerate.
I hang with Walter and you only started an issue that is BIG TIME here in this county we live in. 'FALSE ARREST'!!
[F]orsyth? My family and Snow Flakes fam are so close its crazy. Listen Bob,
I am not crazy about your comment and don't back some of the issues ignorent in your mind.
What are you describing to this audience reading your junk?
Law Student, Biggie Mun. 17 yrs old and not playing games.
Please indicate how a driver/citizen becomes a criminal defendent for nothing at all.
Driving over a painted white line or yellow line on our roads ?
Becoming a criminal defendent for having a TAG LIGHT out?
Just 17 een
I am going to be here on this blogg site and others YOUNG will be TOO.
BRING IT ONE PEOPLE AND LETS SEE HOW WEE DOO?
Snow Flake Thank you Bobby.
Forsyth County -- Vote NO and send a message to Tam and his landlord (Gravitt) that they can not make deals in secret and everything has to be in the open next time. Maybe the sheriff can spend some of his asset forfeiture money on the jail instead of buying a new car for himself every three or four months.
I submitted the following to the FCN and was just informed it will not run since we had "wires crossed" regarding the deadline to submit SPLOST Letters to the Editor. Thank you for the opportunity to post here.
The current list of projects under SPLOST VII includes Castleberry Road in both Tier A and Tier B. In order to fairly evaluate whether this project is justified requires some background.
The first time this appeared on a SPLOST ballot was March 18, 2003. However, the full scope was not known to the voters at this time. It was not until April 11, 2003 that the Board of Commissioners voted “to make Castleberry Road four (4) lanes with raised landscaped median and curb & gutter.” At the time, this decision was made without having a traffic study performed. A traffic study was not performed until Fall, 2004 after the Public Information Meeting of this project received overwhelming opposition. When the findings of this study were made available, there were many disputes regarding flawed growth rates.
Another traffic study was just performed this past summer. The current study proves that the growth rates used in 2004 were grossly overstated. According to the 2004 study, the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) on this road was 6,270. It was projected to grow by 20% and reach 7,524 in 2005, and to reach 13,169 in 2011. The current study finds ADT in 2011 to be 7,218. Seven years later, we haven’t even approached the volume that was expected the very next year in the 2004 study. Furthermore, there have been numerous residential developments along this road, commercial development at Castleberry and Bethelview, and a grade school. The last seven years has delivered unprecedented growth and development, and still the traffic volume has not approached the projections for this road. Additionally, the most recent traffic study uses growth rates that exceed the actual growth experienced in the last seven years. Even using these inflated growth rates, the study finds that this road will not exceed “an unacceptable level of service” until 2025-2027.
It is understood that the Castleberry project needs to be completed under SPLOST law. However, the Board now has documentation that renders the original scope of this project unnecessary. The Board still has the power to reduce the scope and make improvements to the road that do not negatively impact the residents that live adjacent to Castleberry. At a minimum, $3M could be saved by changing the scope of this project. There are too many roads in Forsyth County that have a current rating of “deficient” now to warrant another round of SPLOST money for a project that is not warranted.
The JAIL POPULATION? [C]laims the sheriff will double. Is he intending to arrest young kids and keep them in the Justice System for as long as possible?
I see a mental midget who thinks he needs to arrest more and more people.
Remember Snow Flake and ME, Bob.
Comcast had the county commission meeting last thursday.
Someone gave a great comment about a need for more security and hidden adjendas.
He was correct. You need to find this comment and hear it again.
Me. 17 een
If the above is an example of the level of education and intelligence of the average 17 year-old in Forsyth County (who, by the way, can't seem to put coherent sentences together nor spell correctly), then I cry for the future of this nation.
Dave Richard. How much do we spend on education in this County? Whatever we are doing with our schools I think this young person proves we must stop whatever it is we are doing.
While I see both sides of this issue. The need to have a updated jail and court house to ensure cost reductions in the operating budgets for the county sheriff's department, but at the same time to do it with a special election that costs tax payers an additional ~100K when it could have easily waited for the 2012 July election and most likely only get less than 20% of the counties voters to come out.
Dear Dave Richard and Bill Evelyn, My comment was taken by you two as if I have grammer problems. I do not care what Dave Richard implied. I DO NOT CARE ABOUT SPELLING ERRORS HERE. [I]ts the message that counts. READ IT AGAIN!
I HAPPEN TO BE HOME SCHOOLED and already work part time for an agency in atl. and I am well known for my ability to get there on time and never complain. 2 yrs now.
Bill Evelyn should think about following Dave Richard because it might hurt you in the long run to [r]un with idiots.
Before I become a Lawyer not Liar, I am working hard to get my Paralegal license. Its all fun for me.
Remember  thing ladies, ITS THE MESSAGE NOT THE GRAMMER.
That is the problem with this country, mock the truth and the messenger.
How would ya'll write my first message and please be clear so I might undrstand my mistakes. OMG
Me, 17 een
Oh boy. A good dialog about the SPLOST referendum gets hijacked by eddie and one his false monikers (isn't it funny how a "mother" and/or her "child" always get brought up in these arguments?). Any sane 17 year old would have put his/her full name and definitely would have written with better language and grammar (that's right "grammar" has an "a" in it, not an "e") than the troll above. Also if you get pulled over and don't have a license on you guess what? You get taken in.
Now queue the Gary Cooper is on drugs or loves corruption comments from the "17 een" and their "Mom."
Me 17 een (and I don't even know what that moniker means), your message was incoherent, and remains so.
I was going to vote for the SPLOST until I saw the rendering of what it will look like. It is horrible! Cumming already has zip in the way of shops, restaurants, and galleries. We need a new jail and courthouse, but this abomination will ruin Cumming for the next 100 years. Perhaps by then Mayor Gravitt - who will probably still be in office - will realize what a doofus he's been.
Why downtown when the county has so much open space? Downtown is a pivotal place for important human interaction, business development, culture and history. Our city planners should see this area as integral part to our overall heritage, tax base, sense of community, IDENTITY, economic development and IMAGE. The downtown should also reflect the values held important by the city. The downtown should be a gathering place for people to meet and celebrate Cumming's culture and diversity. Take a look at surrounding towns that have revitalized their downtown areas: Buford, Norcross, Marietta, Vinings, Sandy Springs. We are a PREMIER county........let's look and act like one. Right now it is a joke, take a drive down Market Place Boulevard or Bethelview. Try to find two buildings that have a cohesive facade or even face parallel to the road. Its is a hodge-podge of buildings and parking lots that face many different directions. It is a mess and a traffic nightmare. Please! We have such an opportunity to draw people to this county, make it right! The people who run this county grew up here and they are ruining it. Such haphazard planning and low standards.
We have heard it all before. Henry County is now in its SPLOST III. Same hype, same arguments from proponents every time. BUT, we see nothing change. We get SOS and it's time we Just Say NO!
This is a great example of a Courthouse built adjecent the Sheriffs Office/Jail facillity...just as we're considering funding for SPLOST VII so please take a moment to view it...it's located in Redwood City, which is the "County Seat" of San Mateo County, California.
Cumming is the County Seat of Forsyth County, and in the interest of safety and logistics today, a County Center procured as such -- when possible -- is only prudent.
This would "Metro-ize" downtown Cumming, but I strongly believe that much can still be done to preserve and enhance the rural charm and charecter of the many areas of Forsyth County remaining as such nearby and elsewere today...dispite what little has been done to preserve them otherwise to-date.
Procurement of such a County Center offers Cumming a prime opportunity to move forward and join the 21st century with sufficient and Modern Court and Public Safety facillities that will accomodate what "Growth" has been "Approved" and yet-built to-date...much-less what's likley to come of the regions next Growth-Spurt.
This at the cost of KEEPING a mere 15% of the overall 7% Sales Tax...one we'll be paying on at the same rate of 7% over the decade I've resided here...so it may be a re-newed Tax, but it's not a "New Tax" other than the fact we could -- and should! -- RENEW it.
This isn't to say that I don't have problems SPLOST VII Roadways and Infrastructure "Prioritys"...plenty indeed!
But for the most part I believe it's a good choice to APPROVE SPLOST VII at this time, and as-such, we're throwing the baby out with the bath-water if we fail the extension of this neccessary and prudent funding mechanism at this time.
I've heard a lot of argument against the extension of the 1% SPLOST, most being semantic, and some being out-right rediculous! Don't just eat the Sound-Bytes being fed -- Mine Either! -- there's several days left 'till Nov. 8th to learn the facts and make YOUR decision...please do-so, and then VOTE Tuesday November 8th, 2011
Otherwise? Like the T-shir says: "The Problem is Obvious" ; )
Don't believe that at least a 1/3 of Our Sales Tax Revenue is garnered of "Outsiders"?
One reason is that dispite having 1/3 the land-mass of California (which has only 52 Counties), Georgia has 300% MORE "Local Government" for having a whoppin' 152 Counties...that puts us close to neighboring County borders, 'n then we tend to mingle!
Still don't believe it? Here's an easy challenge for you to prove me wrong then:
Next time you're out driving-aroud just cruise the parking lot of any MAJOR RETAIL OUTLET (not Publix or Kroger, as those are many, mostly shopped local as-such, and otherwise only garner 2% or 4% Sales Taxes of "Groceries") such as Target, Home Depot, Lowes, or Office Depot, etc., and simply tally-up the Tags!
Most Georgia Lic. Plates depict the County they're from...look at at least 100 to 200, then do the simple math:
If it's 1 in 5 that's $20 Million funded of $200 Million otherwise paid for a 1 cent addition to our base 6% tax-rate...if it's 2 out of 5 that's 20% or $40 Million, *etc.
(*And why we should ATTRACT "Shoppers" to Forsyth County! ; )
BTW...Just what "Special Election" are some of these people talking about?
The next two questions only beg to be asked:
How is this Tuesdays Election -- On the Second Tuesday of November -- possibly any manner of "Special Election"...much-less (it) costing MORE for being so?
When in YOUR LIFETIME -- cause there isn't a case to-be-had of mine! -- has there ever NOT BEEN an Election the second Tuesday of November of ANY given Year?
Jack brings up interesting points, but I can not agree with them all.
1) Special Election might be the wrong word for SPLOST VII, but there are no county, state or federal candidates on the ballot for Forsyth County Voters this year. The only local elections are in the City of Cumming and last I checked they were uncontested. If the SPLOST was not on the ballot, we would not need to open any of the polling places outside of the city, thus we would save money.
Also, since this election cycle lacks candidates for Forsyth County Citizens to vote on, it will be poorly attended. We can argue the point, or simply wait for the numbers to come in on November 8th.
The reason for the concern, no matter how you label this election, is that a very small turn out will determine the tax for the whole county. The folks behind the SPLOST know this.
2) Jack’s numbers are off: 1 in 5 is 20%, 2 in 5 is 40%. I am being a little snarky on this one.
3) I drove to the avenues last weekend (a better test than simply driving around at random to see people passing through Forsyth County) . I did a random sampling and found the ratio to be a little less than 1 in 5 my calculation came out closer to 15% Good, but not nearly as good as they claim.
4) Jack seems infatuated with California. In his mad rush to convert all things Georgian into the California model, I hope he takes a minute to consider California is near bankruptcy. Sure they built a lot of nice infrastructure, but at what cost?
5) I do agree that some of the projects are needed, but saying no to this SPLOST is not like throwing the baby out with the bath water. The Current SPLOST has another year to go. We could vote this one down. Improve the list and the plans for the Jail and then vote in 2012.
The voter participation in 2012 will be huge, and so this would be a true reflection of the will of the people.
@ C.C. Point-for-point:
C'mon man..."Special Election"...on the first-tuesday of November : ?
Yep, I noticed that too right after I hit "Submit"...then figured -- for it being on the lo-side by HALF! -- its discovery only doubles the strength of the whole point-made!
Hey now...that's still at least $30 Mil. off of $200 Million bucks...whereas My experience in Office Depot garnerd 2 out of 5 or 40%...either are an awesome compilation of "chump-change" for the literal pennies composing them...and a good-thing still @ $20 Mil. if it was only 10% : )
Yep, 'cause that's where I hail-from: Where a $4 Billion surplus in 2000 went to a $4.4 Billion deficit less than 18 mos. later to 40.4 Billion by Oct. 2008...34 years in a (somewhat ; ) "Paradise" I never imagined leaving...'till I came to realize that "Things" there only evolved in ways that weren't condusive to that vision of "Home" I (and My lovely Wife) desire of "Family" and "Life" anymore...that my efforts put-forth in making much of any significant "Change" there couldn't possibly overcome the degree of difficulty embraced, and if nothing else, I damn-sure wasn't gettin' what I was paying for! Now I moved here to JOIN Georgia, not CHANGE it, but for My experience-had, I soon found the same malaise suffered of California -- not the least of which is the politics of "Business Interests" superceding that of "The People" for IT's un-bridled growth and development! Incredibly, the same maliase I'd left the San Francisco Bay Area for Northern California in 1989...was now infecting Georgia in 2005! Well I'm not running-away from the B.S. anymore, especially from something that's still worth saving! I work today to preserve and protect what We relocated Our family here for: The Rurual Charm and Charecter of an otherwise modern community offering a great quality of life in an environment condusive to Live-Learn-Work-Play...because it's fast-becomming "Was" otherwise.
A renewed "List" for SPLOST VII? If that happens I'm not heart-broken, as there's plenty there to revise...but perhaps then that argument of "Special Election" serves conversely, as the importance of such Local initiatives become shadowed for the heat of the Presidential Election distorting it...perhaps we'll see?