There has been some debate recently as to when the upcoming 2016 SPLOST will be voted on by the residents of Upson County, with November this year and March of 2016 being given as possible dates. The November election is a city election (Thomaston and Yatesville) and March is county-wide for the Presidential Primaries. Earlier this month, the Upson County Commissioners stated they felt it would be best to put the election off until March to allow for better voter turnout for a county wide election and to give more time to educate the public on why continuing the one cent sales tax is needed. However, County Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston and Thomaston Mayor Hays Arnold stated Monday the election would be held in November because,“It seems like a good time to have it.”
The pair made the announcement while at the Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority meeting on Monday, yet refused to give any other reason for keeping the election in November. Arnold did state earlier in the meeting the city would be using their portion of the funding to go to three things: storm water, sewer and infrastructure. He noted the SPLOST money is being used to repair what has not been done and what has been neglected in those areas for many years.
County Manager Jim Wheeless stated the county’s project list is ready to go and it would be announced at a called meeting on Thursday, August 27. The list was not available as of press time, but look for it in an upcoming edition of The Thomaston Times.
At Tuesday’s Board of Commission meeting, Chairman Blackston acknowledged the importance of supporting the SPLOST, but noted it is up to the citizens to make the ultimate decision.
“The SPLOST vote will be in November and we aren’t forcing anybody to vote for it. We can live without it, but the things we’d like to do, just won’t get done (if it fails to pass),” said Blackston.
One of the big projects the commissioners have mentioned would not happen if the SPLOST does not pass would be the paving of county roads. At a work session earlier this month, Commissioner Steve Hudson told the board he has asked Road Superintendent James Melton to get up a list of all the county roads which have been paved with SPLOST dollars since 2005, noting it is because of that money they have been able to do so many roads in the last 10 years. He also noted without the SPLOST, the county would not be able to come up with the matching funds for the LMIG (Local Maintenance Improvement Grant) which is money from the state that helps to pay for the paving of roads as well. The commissioners plan to have a booth at the Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo next week to meet with the public to discuss the SPLOST. The Business Expo will be on Thursday, September 3 at the Civic Center from 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
This SPLOST is slightly different from the 2011 SPLOST because there is an intergovernmental agreement between Upson County and the City of Thomaston this time around, which means the one cent sales tax will be allowed to go for six years instead of five. The 2011 SPLOST was only for five years because the governing bodies did not have an agreement in place. If the 2016 SPLOST passes in November, then Upson County will receive approximately 64.46 percent, the City of Thomaston will receive approximately 32.20 percent and the City of Yatesville will receive approximately 1.34 percent.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1