Groups have raised at least $58,000 to push for a Bibb County sales tax, which voters will consider Tuesday.
The official campaign organization, Business for Progress, reported to the state that it had raised $22,550 for the special purpose local option sales tax. But the majority of Business for Progress’ money came from NewTown Macon, which gave it $15,000 of a $50,000 SPLOST budget, NewTown Macon President Mike Ford said.
Ford said NewTown, a downtown Macon booster organization, was spending its other $35,000 on radio advertisements, postcards and advocacy from state Rep. David Lucas, though he declined to say how that money is apportioned.
Business for Progress — which is also operating as “Put Macon-Bibb to Work!” — reported it had spent $5,688.79 on advertising, mostly with Web site makers Bright Ideas Group.
Other money bought ads in the Georgia Informer newspaper, flyers from Creative Images and bumper stickers from Embroidery Plus. The group is chaired by Chip Cherry, president of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce.
Besides NewTown Macon’s $15,000, Business for Progress reported receiving $5,000 from contractor Chris R. Sheridan & Co.; a combined $1,450 from five other contractors; $1,000 from private donor Julie Weems of Gray; and $100 in unitemized contributions.
Ford said NewTown’s SPLOST funds are from its operating cash, which comes largely from the big businesses in town but also comes from private foundations. Macon, Bibb County and the Macon Water Authority each pay $10,000 to NewTown to be on its board of directors, Ford said.
Ford said support for the SPLOST is a natural fit for an organization seeking to strengthen downtown Macon.
“When you do the juvenile justice center and the courthouse and all the things that would be built downtown, it’s more than $95 million in downtown redevelopment,” he said.
Calder Pinkston, a leader of an anti-SPLOST group called “This cent makes no $en$e,” said his group never formed a campaign committee because the group neither raised nor spent any money. He criticized the pro-SPLOST forces.
“It appears there are a lot of people who may benefit financially from the passage of this SPLOST who are financially contributing to its passage,” he said.