Letter: Will we 'leave our community better than we found it?'

Can we agree that there are valid reasons to be for or against this Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST); that neither those "for" nor those "against" wants to see our community embark on a course of stagnation and decline; that a SPLOST is paid by residents and visitors alike; and that public facilities cost real money to build and maintain?

If we can agree on all of the above, then the main issue that remains is: What do we expect from voting a special purpose tax upon ourselves?

There are significant items on the proposed SPLOST project list and there are items that are less compelling. But, all of the items have been vetted in public meetings. They have been subjected to long-term planning reviews and they all are oriented toward benefiting residents during the coming years. Indeed, some projects are carefully designed to address the needs of a growing population. The list is not perfect, but the projects are those of a community that is interested in moving forward.

To me, the defining SPLOST question is: Do we still have a sense of united purpose to "leave our community better than we found it?"

When I moved here with my family in 1977, I was fortunate to be embraced and mentored by numerous members of an older generation within this community. These "old-timers" were civic leaders and ordinary citizens that shared a common passion for "leaving it better." It worries me that too many in my generation seem to be less willing to make an investment in our community simply because other communities are investing less. And the fact that we (as older taxpayers) may not be around to realize a full benefit is not an acceptable excuse for me.

I support the SPLOST. I think it will be a sound investment and not a burden. I encourage each voter to consider the level of investment you are willing to make in the future of our community. Is a 1 percent sales tax (that most everyone pays) too much? I agree we can neither tax nor spend our way into prosperity; but, neither can we expect to prosper if we withdraw from the field of communities that are willing to invest in their future.

Inspired by those who came before us and by their "pay it forward" spirit, it is our turn to enable a younger generation that is standing ready to move ahead.

Jim Bethel


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