Letters to the EditorNews

Start Over on SPLOST

Vote no on SPLOST 2020? What possible argument is there for voting no on the 2020 SPLOST? Especially given it is a fairly painless tax paid for by people who spend money in ACC, and not the landowners who are a bit unfairly taxed by the removal of 40% of taxable land in the area for one reason or another.

So, in millions:

$78 to ACC facilities seems like a painless way to modernize needed ACC facilities and help keep property taxes in check.

$44 to assist with affordable housing in Athens could alleviate a lot of pressure on low income residents.

$34 to build an arena so we can have events like ice hockey, rollergirls, different levels of musicians and my favorite, an indoor velodrome racing, seems awesome. Although I will digress a little on this one, as this will put our investment in the Classic Center over $100 (remember, this is in millions). 

$16 for bond debt service. I think this is an “I want it now” number to cover interest and costs to issue bonds. Makes sense to me, because I want it now.

$45 for parks. Great—let’s get more people to use them, although I would like to see $500 put into more mountain bike trails (in ones).

$14 for an Eastside library. Who doesn’t need more educational resources and encouragement to use them? All good.

Buried in the SPLOST is the one number that sticks out as the most ridiculous, ludicrous, idiotic, shortsighted and just plain wrong number in the entire proposal, and the reason you should vote no. That is $15.8. It is for “Renewable Energy Project.” This is a total waste of taxpayer resources. What good is $15.8 if $78 is going to create new environmentally damaging construction projects? $44 is going to to more building and development, although for a good cause. $34 to sustain an energy hog that encourages travel by air and auto by the thousands. $45 that, while encouraging alternative transportation and recreation in some areas, encourages a get in your car and gas it. Athens is better than this. This number should be $310,904,300.

We can’t wait another 10 years. A whole lot can be accomplished by spending all of a SPLOST tax on “green” projects.

$78 to provide renewable energy to existing structures and lowering future costs of operation. ACC facilities.

$44 to give free green energy to low income housing providing a direct subsidy to a much needed demographic: low income housing.

$34 to make the entire town a green energy tourist attraction with free or low cost charging stations, beer brewed by the sun and green subsidies for music venues. Then task the Convention and Visitors Bureau with selling Athens as a supercharged, energetic city and attracting the Tesla owners of the world to a guilt-free travel destination. 

$45 to replace every mower, weed eater and blower with quiet, energy efficient and battery operated equipment, and supporting all alternative transportation modes to these facilities while planting as many trees as possible on every unneeded inch of Athens property, public and private.

And $14 to create a model resource center for understanding and promoting how Athens became a leader in saving the planet and educating every person on how they can make small changes to create a big difference, with green lawn educational programs and incentives as an example.

I am truly sorry that I am late to this discussion, and I apologize for this, having spent the last year promoting cycling nationwide. But it isn’t too late to put SPLOST off for another year and redo its priorities. Selling 20,000 bikes wasn’t enough. Promoting cycling as a recreational and transportation alternative isn’t enough. Driving a Leaf and protecting my 100-acre woods isn’t enough. The long term economic impact for a different future would be a start. Somebody has to do it now, and it should be Athens.