TSPLOST could be on the ballot this November


Photo: Eugene Peretz on Flickr

A new penny-on-the-dollar sales tax in Milledgeville/Baldwin County would generate roughly $45 million over the course of five years, with the money earmarked for resurfacing and rehabbing local roads.

The City Council and county commission have agreed in principle to placing a TSPLOST referendum on the ballot this November. This is not an election year, of any sort, here in Baldwin County, and the TSPLOST referendum would be the only item on the ballot.

Now, local leaders have to figure out how to get voters to go for it, which hasn't been easy in the past. The most recent local TSPLOST referendum, held back in November 2018, remains the only SPLOST vote in Baldwin County history to be rejected by voters, which dates all the way back to 1990. That referendum was rejected by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin. The most "no" votes in November 2018 came from Milledgeville/Baldwin County's more rural precincts, despite the fact that the bulk of TSPLOST money was earmarked for county roads. The Coopers precinct was 59 percent against, the Scotsboro precinct was 58 percent against, while both Meriwether and East Baldwin were 56 percent against.

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Interestingly, a regional TSPLOST referendum was held earlier in 2018, and Baldwin County voters actually voted in favor of the regional TSPLOST, 2,715 to 2,139. However, the regional TSPLOST referendum failed across the region and wasn't as popular in other nearby counties.

So, what changed between May 2018 and November 2018, when local voters flipped from "yes" to "no" on the TSPLOST issue? Well, many local residents were caught off guard upon receiving their property tax bills in September, the month prior. Included on each bill was a $32-per-parcel tax marked for "indigent care" and Navicent Health Baldwin County. The county commissioners received an earful, and the indigent care tax generally was not well received. The timing of the property tax bills (mailed out in September) could not have been much worse for TSPLOST proponents, and it could be argued that many property owners exacted their revenge at the polls that November.

In terms of this November, neither the City Council or county commission has finalized their list of roads for repaving.

If approved by voters later this year, the local sales tax would rise from 7 percent to 8 percent.

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