Welcome to CTA Report!
Now that a few weeks have passed since our disappointing, razor thin margin of loss on the 2011 SPLOST vote, it is time for us to reflect on where do we go from here. Although we did lose by only 90 votes out of approximately 43,000 votes cast, we can take heart in the fact that the opposition had to outspend us 100 to one to win, or put another way, they spent $11 for each vote they received verses eleven cents for what we spent. If the election was held during a general election with higher voter turnout, there is little doubt that we would have prevailed. Later in this newsletter, we will discuss what can be done to change that so we can compete on at least a somewhat leveler playing field.
However, what we did accomplish is to develop a 100+ membership organization which we can build upon to fight the tax and spend interests going forward, along with a strong coalition of like-minded fiscal conservatives, which includes the Georgia Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, the Cobb County Libertarian Party, and various homeowner associations. In the meantime, this newsletter will serve to keep you abreast of our ongoing efforts to restore fiscal sanity to county and municipal government in Cobb.
New Name and Domain Address
In order to make our organization’s name more user friendly and easy to remember for you and the media, we have shortened our name from the Cobb County Taxpayers Association to the Cobb Taxpayers Association. Hence the acronym CTA Report for this newsletter. Also, effective [date] our website domain address will change from the SPLOST specific www.votenomarch15.com to [new address]. However, those who log onto the old address will be automatically routed to the new one, and the content from the old will transfer to the new.
During the July 2012 primaries, there will be yet another SPLOST tax increase on the ballot, known as the transportation SPLOST, or T-SPLOST. It will involve a one percent sales tax increase levied on 10 counties in the Atlanta metro region including Cobb. It is supposed to raise $8-10 billion for transportation infrastructure which will likely include a multimillion dollar light rail system in Cobb, which the County Chairman, Tim Lee, is already vigorously promoting. This will be a disaster for Cobb taxpayers, and CTA will be out front in opposition. Representatives from the Fayette County Tea Party are in the process of building a regional coalition to oppose the T-SPLOST, and CTA is on record as being part of this coalition, where we will focus our efforts on getting out the vote in Cobb.
We are also working with The Reason Foundation – a California based free-market think tank – to develop market based solutions to traffic congestion in metro Atlanta which will:
- Not result in a tax increase;
- Will place the cost of infrastructure improvements more directly on users; and
- Which will really solve the problem, rather than just throwing money at it.
CTA realizes that being opposed to the T-SPLOST just because it is a tax increase will not win the day. We must provide viable alternatives that will work.
CTA is also working with the Georgia Tea Party to develop a SPLOST Reform Task Force. The SPLOST, as currently configured under Georgia State Law, gives undue advantage to SPLOST proponents, making it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to defeat SPLOST referendums. To better level the playing field, CTA is in the process of identifying legislators to introduce and co-sponsor reform measures which will include the following:
- Require SPLOST referendums be placed on the ballot only during and in conjunction with a general election. This will solve the problem of SPLOST elections being captured by narrow special interests, and increase voter turnout (and thus greater voter accountability and transparency). It will also save taxpayers the expense of special elections.
- Prohibit taxpayer funded entities from contributing to SPLOST advocacy organizations. This outrageous practice was visited upon Cobb when two Community Improvement Districts (CTAs) contributed $150,000 to the pro-SPLOST Citizens for Cobb’s Future; ostensibly for the purpose of “educating” the voters.
- Allow for fractional SPLOSTS of a half-cent or less. This will not only reduce the tax burden, but will force counties to focus on needs vs. wants, and avoid the spectacle of loading up on frivolous projects just for the purpose of matching revenue expectations. And finally;
- Require that any additional revenue from the SPLOST that is collected above projections be used for property tax relief or set aside as a rainy day fund. This money should not be allowed to go into the general fund or rolled over to finance projects in a future SPLOST.
Members who would like to participate in the work of this task force should express their interest by clicking on the “contact us” link on our website.
Citizens Oversight Committee
In December 2011 the County Board of Commissioners established a Citizens Oversight Committee, which is currently deliberating on ways to bridge the county’s budget shortfall. Their preliminary report is due June 28. CTA encourages members to e-mail the committee with viable suggestions for reducing spending without a tax increase. You can submit suggestions via the Cobb County Government website and click onto the link: Citizen Oversight Committee Suggestions.
SPLOST Oversight Committee
Now that the 2011 SPLOST is a reality, CTA members can play a crucial role in making sure SPLOST project needs take precedence over wants. To do so, contact your County Commissioner who represents you on the Commission and request that he or she appoint you to the SPLOST Oversight Committee.