WEST COBB — Only four Cobb residents turned out to Commissioner Helen Goreham’s forum on SPLOST projects Thursday night.
While county government employees greatly outnumbered the citizens who attended the event at the West Cobb Senior Center on Dallas Highway, proponents and opponents to the proposed six-year extension of the special purpose local option sales tax had different takes on the low turnout.
Goreham remained optimistic the community was well informed of what is on the SPLOST list and said she’s heard favorable opinions on plans to build a regional library and expanding the North Cobb Senior Center in her district.
“By there not being a rush of people here, I hope that indicates that people have a very good idea of what the project list is,” Goreham said. “They feel comfortable with it and they’ll go to the polls and vote for their support or non-support.”
Lance Lamberton of Austell, who heads the Cobb Taxpayer Association and is spearheading the effort against the SPLOST, said he thinks the low number should be a “bad sign” for the tax.
“People are totally disgusted because of the lack of transparency and the lack of trust and they don’t even want to come to these meetings to hear what they have to say,” said Lamberton, a public relations consultant.
Marietta attorney Justin O’Dell, meanwhile, said he thinks people are paying more attention to the races for governor and U.S. senate right now.
“The campaign for the SPLOST hasn’t started in full force on either side, so it’s not really on the forefront of people’s minds right now,” said O’Dell, who co-chairs Secure Cobb’s Future, the advocacy group for the SPLOST.
He said he expects that to change in the next week or so as he and Lamberton ramp up their efforts to advocate for their sides of the issue.
Three of the four residents who came to the meeting said they were in support of the SPLOST, which will go before voters in November.
That included Larry Ceminsky of Marietta, who said the tax is needed “to be the best place in Georgia to live.”
While he called himself a “staunch conservative” who is against taxation as a rule, Ceminsky, who owns a lawnmower repair shop in Marietta, explained why he supports the tax.
“If my goal is shopping for clothes or for groceries, I want something. I have to pay for it, or I have to do without,” he said. “If I have to do without, then I’m not a happy person. Well, it’s the same in my mind. If we want something improved, you have to pay for it.”
Patricia Hay of Mableton, however, said she is “totally against” the SPLOST.
“It’s going to be used for a lot of stuff they really don’t need. Is it going to pay for policemen? Is it going to pay salaries? Is it going to help us from losing policemen?”
When told SPLOST cannot legally be used for salaries, Hay said, “Well, it’s not going to be helpful. It’s just going to do buildings. We’ve got enough buildings.”
Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal