Small Number Makes Big Decision
Only 1,456 Oconee County voters, representing 6.6 percent of the 22,090 registered, decided today that the county will continue to collect a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax of 1 cent on the dollar for the next six years.
According to the unofficial returns posted on the county web site, 1,037 voters, or 71.2 percent of those who went to the polls, approved of the tax, which will fund a breadbasket of projects.
Included in the list of projects to be funded are streets, bridges, water and sewage construction, and farmland protection. The approved tax also will help pay off debt the county has run up in building a new jail and a large new park, also funded from the current SPLOST.
The current SPLOST was approved by voters in November of 2003, with 10.2 percent of the 16,695 voters registered at the time participating.
In 2003, the SPLOST tax was approved by 81.8 percent of the 1,696 who went to the polls.
In sum, 240 fewer people voted today than in 2003, although 5,395 more persons were eligible to do so.
In November of 2008, 17,208 of the then 21,579 registered voters–or 79.7 percent--went to the polls.
The tax today was approved by a majority of the voters in each of the county’s 13 precincts, but only 41 of the 78 voters in the Antioch precinct approved (52.3 on a percent basis) and 47 of 58 (81.0 percent) approved in Bishop and 24 of 30 (80.0 percent) approved in Farmington.
Antioch, Bishop and Farmington are all in the southern part of the county.
The county has estimated that the approved SPLOST tax, which will go into effect late this year when the current one expires, will raise $40.4 million over the next six year, or an average of $6.7 million per year.
The current SPLOST is bringing in only about $5.3 million per year, meaning the county will have to experience tremendous commercial growth in the next years to realize the projection.