As Election Day Approaches, the Council wants to continue highlighting its support for the 2014 Cobb SPLOST. We encourage our members to examine the project list and support the SPLOST at the polls on Election Day this November 4th.
Support for the SPLOST has been somewhat mixed. One Cobb citizen was quoted in the Marietta Daily Journal expressing her support stating that “Yes, so the citizens of Cobb County won’t have to pay for everything, because it consumes everybody that comes here. The visitors pay for the roads that they drive on anyway, so it’s not just the residents that live here.” On the other hand, the same article quoted another citizen expressing his opposition stating that “From what I understand after I’ve researched it, there’s plenty of money to do what needs to be done. I think that there are some superfluous things in this SPLOST offering that we probably don’t need.”
It is essential that voters accurately understand the allocation of funds and how they impact various aspects of their community. The full breakdown of the 2014 SPLOST is as follows:
- Traffic Mitigation and Transportation Improvements: $ 287,431,467
- Public Services: $ 102,913,526
- Libraries – $ 23,203,167
- Senior Services – $ 2,201,580
- Parks and Recreation – $ 77,508,779
- Support Services: $ 47,919,380
- Public Safety: $ 87,977,584
- Police – $37,164,113
- Fire – $13,513,471
- Training Center- $23,300,000
- County Radio System- $14,000,000
Each city will receive a portion of the overall funding based on their population. The distribution of SPLOST funds that each city would receive is as follows:
- Acworth: $ 21,208,827
- Austell: $ 6,725,280
- Kennesaw: $ 31,602,891
- Marietta: $ 58,353,902
- Powder Springs: $ 14,231,720
- Smyrna: $ 52,773,203
Of the $750 million that would be raised through the proposed Cobb SPLOST, $287,431,467 of the funds would go towards transportation projects throughout the county. These projects include resurfacing, sidewalks, drainage, traffic signals and timing, school zone improvements, intersection improvements, road alignments, and bridge replacements. Interested parties can access an interactive map identifying the proposed SPLOST projects throughout the county at http://www.cobbgis.org:81/CobbSPLOSTStatus/.
According to Justin O’Dell, Co-Chair of Secure Cobb’s Future, a group actively supporting the new SPLOST referendum, “The projects in the 2014 SPLOST are lean and necessary to secure Cobb’s future. This is an important opportunity to continue to do something positive for Cobb in regards to transportation, public safety and quality of life, and we cannot afford to let it pass us by. In order to secure our future and remain the most competitive community in the metro region, the 2014 SPLOST gives Cobb the resources to keep our citizens safe, reduce traffic congestion, and revitalize aging infrastructure.”
SPLOST funds have and continue to be a critical source of funding for needed projects, both in Cobb County and throughout the Metro Atlanta area. Cobb County’s current SPLOST (2011-2015) has included transportation infrastructure improvements, primarily road maintenance in the form of upkeep and resurfacing. Completed projects from the current SPLOST include: Cherokee at McCollum; Jiles Road (County Managed); Kennesaw Due West at Highway 41/Cobb Parkway; Old Highway 41 & Barrett Pkwy (County Managed); as well as the resurfacing of seven miles of various roads. Active transportation projects still being funded by the current SPLOST include improvements on Cherokee Street and Old Highway 41, as well as projects on Cobb International Blvd, Pine Mountain Road, Rutledge Road /Cathey Lane, Stanley Rd / Collins Rd, and Highway 41 to Barrett Parkway.
Both counties and cities benefit from SPLOST dollars, and would be constrained if this funding source was rejected by the voters in the November referendum. Voter support has been marginally declining the past five years in Cobb and other counties in the Metro Region. Concerns that support among voters is waning could threaten future SPLOST renewals prompting State Representative John Carson to sponsor fractional SPLOST legislation in the 2014 legislative session. HB 153, a bill for a Fractional SPLOST, would have allowed a sales tax of less than 1% to be allotted to projects approved by the county as well as the cities. HB 153 did not pass in the 2014 legislative session, but the idea of passing a bill to allow for fractional SPLOSTs is still under consideration for the next legislative session.
While the Council supports fractional SPLOST, we cannot underestimate the importance of a full 1% SPLOST for Cobb County and the other counties in the Metro Region. A fractional SPLOST should serve as an option for communities that are unwilling to approve a full 1% SPLOST – it should not be used as a replacement for a full 1% SPLOST.