Editorial: SPLOST advisory committee members should avoid a rush to judgment

The 16 members of the advisory committee that will make recommendations for projects that could be funded from the next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) in Whitfield County voted recently that the next SPLOST should be limited to four years.

We have to ask "Why?"

Not why four years, which may turn out to be an appropriate length for another SPLOST.

But why settle on four years so early in the process. Why the rush to judgment?

This was the committee's third meeting in an endeavor that is expected to last at least until November. There is plenty of time to decide on particulars to recommend for the next SPLOST, including the length of time it should be in place.

How odd to decide that before the committee members have heard about all of the projects that will come before the committee over the next few weeks and months. Shouldn't those projects that the committee decides to ultimately recommend to the county commissioners determine the length of the next SPLOST proposal?

With revenue estimates of $16 million a year from the 1% sales tax, what if the committee members decide to only recommend $10 million worth of projects, or $30 million? The four-year designation ($64 million) would make no sense at that point. And shouldn't one possibility be that the committee members recommend no SPLOST at all?

Now, committee member David Pennington IV, who made the motion for the four years, did acknowledge that "this is a framework for the committee to work from" and that it is not "a hard cap."

And committee Chairman Chris Shiflett said "the four-year cap would be something for this committee to work towards. I think it's a good number."

But why now?

Committee members are still "putting" proposals "in the pile" for further discussion. Why the need to send a message to county residents at this early date that four years may be the way to go?

The committee members should hold off on deciding how long the next SPLOST should be for or how much money it should generate until the members have finished their deliberations with respect to all of the projects that will come before them.

Doing otherwise sends a signal, however unintended, that the committee members may have approached their task with some preconceived notions instead of letting the facts and the proposed projects dictate where they end up.

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