There’s a lot riding on Tuesday’s election for the citizens of Bibb County. In particular, about $183 million in local sales tax money hangs in the balance.
The money would be collected over six years and go toward the construction of a new county courthouse complex, among other projects. In framing the SPLOST, as the sales tax is called, county government leaders have butted heads with their counterparts in Macon’s city government.
The Telegraph has not conducted a scientific poll on the issue. However, we did go downtown Sunday to conduct a straw poll among people leaving three churches within a few blocks of the courthouse.
We found voters evenly divided on the issue, with a significant number undecided. Here’s what they had to say:
Florence Allen, 49. Toy store owner. Lives within city limits.
“I’m going to vote against it. I just feel like it was not presented very well to the city. And I just think there are too many flawed parts of it that I just can’t seem to get past.”
Steve Allen, 55. Independent web developer. Lives within city limits. (Allen is a member of the board of elections, chair of the Democratic Party of Bibb County and husband of Florence.)
“I’m voting for it. I think it’s flawed but I think it’s far better than nothing.”
Joyce Brown. No age given. Dental hygienist. Lives within city limits.
“I’m voting against the SPLOST because it will be three years before they can use any of the money. I don’t see how it’s helping anyone in the community, other than just the courthouse.”
Symuell Coates, 75, Retired postal supervisor. Lives outside city limits.
“I’m going to vote for the SPLOST. I think it’ll be better for Bibb County. You’ve got a variety of assistance that you can get from sales tax. Rather than just having a property tax increase, it might reduce the property tax.”
Hazel Couch, 82. Substitute teacher. Lives within city limits.
“I already voted. I’m a poll manager. I voted for the SPLOST. I’m in favor of it. I think it will get the things we need and I’m for it 100 percent, because I think our property tax will go up if they don’t pass the SPLOST. And with the SPLOST the out-of-county people will be coming in and spending money and they’ll help pay for these things.”
Shelby Cramer, 71. Retired. Lives within city limits.
“I’m going to vote against it. I don’t think the city and county have pulled together enough for this to be a fair vote for everyone.”
Symeria Gerald, 31. Works in food service. Lives within city limits.
I’m not quite sure. ... I don’t see the point of having an extra sales tax when we’re already way behind. The economy still kind of sucks right now. It’s not ready yet to raise taxes up like that. It will be more trouble, really. They need to get together and make a game plan. We can’t really say what’s going to happen if they can’t get together and say what’s going to happen. I’ve got to vote, that’s my right. I’m just going to look at more issues. Channel 13 and stuff, and The Telegraph. See who has the best argument.”
Miriam Hagan, older than 60. Accountant/administrator. Lives outside city limits.
“I’m not finished deciding. I’m learning as we’re talking. ... I know they’re wanting to build a new courthouse or a courthouse annex and it’s going to cost a lot, a lot of money. ... I’m always concerned about taxes.”
Kem Marshall, 42. Works at Blue Bird Corporation. Lives within city limits.
“I’m not sure yet. I haven’t given it much consideration. I’m going to read up on it.”
Rosemary Thomas, 69. Homemaker. Lives within city limits.
“I voted no. I think it was ill-timed to put that into our ballot this time because we didn’t have a long enough time to think about it and study it. And I couldn’t see how it was going to benefit us that much. ... I’m not in favor of building a new courthouse. I think the juvenile center would be a wonderful thing. But there’s some parts of it I just wasn’t sure about and so I voted no.”
Trey Wood, 54. Architect. Lives within city limits.
“I’m going to vote for. I believe it’s a good investment for downtown and the participation of the members of our global or regional community in helping pay for something inevitable, especially for the courthouse, which is going right across there, makes economic sense to me.”