The current debate on the proposed $100 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) isn't whether or not we should invest in our community's future -- of course we should. The question is who should invest. How do we optimize the balance between government and private sector investment? Is taking $100 million out of our economy over six years the right thing to do?
I'm biased toward a tight-fisted government squeezing as much as possible out of every tax dollar because I believe individuals will always invest their own money more efficiently than government.
When people choose to invest their own money the result is the Wright School of Business and Peeples Hall at Dalton State College; the Anna Shaw Children's Institute, a regional provider of care for children and families experiencing the challenges of developmental delays; the Ken White Indoor Practice Facility at Lakeshore Park, which provides Dalton State and Dalton Parks and Recreation an indoor soccer practice field; the Bandy Heritage Center; a new Christian Heritage High School benefitting from the leadership and donations of Jim Jolly and Norris Little; the James E. Brown Center; Peeples Cancer Institute at Hamilton Medical Center. Other examples can be cited.
When government invests our money the results are different with the Carbondale Business Park, the obvious example of millions of our tax dollars sunk into the ground. After remaining mostly empty, a company was lured with free land and 100 percent tax abatement.
When government invests we get huge office buildings, with Dalton City Hall standing as an example that should not be emulated. It was built during very good economic times, but much of the space was not needed and today is occupied by Dalton Public Schools administration.
Consider that $34 million of the proposed SPLOST will be spent on government buildings containing more than twice the square footage of current facilities.
While there is a place for government community investment, I believe the proposed SPLOST is too rich and will run too long. Let's leave $100 million in private people's pockets, which will benefit small businesses and individuals alike.
Let's move our community forward by voting no on the $100 million SPLOST.