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Smaller list may help tax pass
When Glynn County voters were asked to approve a 1-percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in November 2011, Mary Hunt predicted it would fail.

Hunt, today chair of the Glynn County Commission, said the SPLOST referendum, which included 67 projects costing an estimated $89.2 million, was way too excessive and expensive to generate the support needed to approve it.

"I was not surprised at all," she said of its failure at the ballot box.

Now, it might be time to ask voters to consider another referendum, this time with a small list of projects and a two-year time limit to collect funding, Hunt said.

During a non-voting commission retreat last week, the possibility of asking voters to consider another SPLOST referendum was discussed. Commissioners agreed they wouldn't put another referendum before voters this year, but they plan to lay the groundwork for a vote sometime in 2014, probably during the primary elections.

Hunt believes limiting the number of projects to no more than 10 that could be financed with a SPLOST taking no more than two years to collect, and having wide appeal to a majority of voters, will generate enough support for approval.

"We heard what voters are saying and we will improve," Hunt said. "The job will be to come up with a list of projects that are special purpose."

Hunt said she will ask department heads to submit a list of projects they believe would get the support of voters. The likely projects on the referendum will be for improvements to roads, drainage, infrastructure and public safety.

"There are consequences if these don't get done," she said. "If we get anything about 10 (projects) and over two years (to complete), it will be over the limit."

Hunt said she will also ask for input from Brunswick officials for projects that would benefit the city and generate support among its voters.

Commissioner Richard Strickland agreed another SPLOST referendum has to be limited in size and scope if elected officials want to convince a majority of voters to support it.

"Timing is the thing when we decide to do it," he said. "It needs to be very basic. I think if you show the necessity of it, you will get support. The public demands some of these services."

Commissioner Clyde Taylor said it's important for the county to complete projects from two earlier SPLOST referendums before asking voters to consider another tax.

"We need to say there are no active SPLOST projects," he said.

County Administrator Alan Ours said the remaining county projects from previous SPLOSTs should be completed in about a year, which would be before a new referendum question would be considered by voters.

Commissioner Bob Coleman said uncertainty about the economy will be a factor when voters decide on a new tax.

"You don't know what this economy is going to do," he said.

Dale Provenzano urged fellow commissioners to take their time developing a list.

"There may be time later this year to prioritize possible projects," he said. "I will support nothing but public safety or public works projects."

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about government and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 323.



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