Whether you believe any extra tax in the current economy is too much, or that a special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, is the way to fund current needs, the issue has spawned debate across Cobb County.
If passed March 15, the SPLOST is expected to generate $492 million for parks, recreation, public safety, libraries, senior centers and transportation projects for the county and Cobb’s six cities.
Proposed SPLOST projects that would directly affect Kennesaw include an amphitheater and plaza added to Depot Park, renovations at the community center and the addition of a skate park to Swift-Cantrell Park.
The special four-year tax would begin Jan. 1, 2012, just as the current one ends.
Proponents say SPLOST would insure that Cobb County continues to be competitive when seeking businesses to locate in the area.
It will keep millage rates low and improve infrastructure. They also say that 30 percent of the penny tax would be paid for by visitors to the county.
Supporters point to the many facilities that have been paid for by previous SPLOSTs, including road widenings, bridges, expansions of the county jail and the new courthouse just off of the Marietta Square.
If the SPLOST was to fail on March 15, the county would incur debt and it could threaten the county’s Triple A bond rating, said Rose Wing, a retired attorney who heads Citizens for Cobb’s Future.
The group organized more than five years ago to promote the 2005 special sales tax. That SPLOST, which expires Dec. 31, passed by 114 votes.
On the other side of the SPLOST issue are organizations including the Cobb County Taxpayers Association and the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance, working to defeat the extension.
Opponents say the list of projects is more of a “want” list than a “need” list. The county needs to take a more conservative look at the current budget and see what can be cut, said Lance Lamberton, president of the Taxpayers Association.
In the down economy, county commissioners need to be thinking more about cutting taxes than adding more, Lamberton said.
Of the nearly $200 million in the SPLOST assigned for municipal improvements, Kennesaw would receive about $22.11 million.
Here's a breakdown of some of the major projects that would directly affect Kennesaw:
- Operational improvements to Pine Mountain Road including curb, gutter, sidewalk (both sides), turn lane, bridge replacement, upgrade to the Smith-Gilbert Garden entrance (accel/decel lanes, stormwater improvements, new exit) and an intersection upgrade & signal at Shilling/Ellis Road. Cost would be $6.49 million.
- Update Cobb International Blvd. to industrial standards. Cost would be $1.5 million.
- Upgrade sidewalks to ADA standards; upgrade signage; improve street bike routes at a cost of $535,353.
- Widen the road at Collins and Stanley and add drainage improvements and sidewalks to both sides at a cost of $1,15 million
- Resurface various streets at a cost of $413,650.
- Intersection and drainage improvements at the intersection of McCollum Pkwy and Cherokee Street at a cost of $388,000.
- Infrastructure improvements including upgrading storm drains, culverts, sidewalks and curbs throughout the city and upgrading ramps to ADA standards at a cost of $1.1 million.
- Intersection improvements to Cherokee Street including 10 side streets at a cost of $5 million.
- Regional concrete outdoor skating facility to include street skating and transition skating areas with multiple bowls. Proposed location is Swift-Cantrell Park at a cost of $750,000
- Smith-Gilbert Gardens Event Building, multi-purpose facility to be used for weddings, receptions, meetings, parties, programs, and events at a cost of $1.8 million.
- Depot Park Improvements including an amphitheater and large plaza
for a cost of $2.1 million.
- Swift-Cantrell Park parking improvements include parking, landscaping, irrigation, and maintenance building at a cost of $650,00.
- Community Center Renovation including the refurbishing of existing classrooms, meeting rooms and dance rooms. Pottery space would be added also for a total cost of $226,999.