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Catoosa County leaders speak out against TSPLOST

Catoosa County leaders speak out against TSPLOST

By Dennis Norwood

Under the TSPLOST plan, Catoosa is included in the 15-county northwest Georgia  region. There are 12 regions across Georgia. The northwest Georgia region  includes Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon,  Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Walker and Whitfield.
If a  majority of voters approve the tax in the 15-county region, it will be  implemented, even if voters in Catoosa or other individual counties do not  approve it.
Fort Oglethorpe mayor Lynn Long fears the tax will slow  commuting shoppers from nearby Tennessee. “People shop by habit. We love these  shoppers and want them to love us,” Long said.
Ringgold mayor Joe Barger  is also against the tax: “It will generate far more taxes than it will  benefits.”
At the county level, District 3 commissioner Jim Cutler said, “I will probably not vote for it, as not all the money will go to Catoosa  County.”
District 1 commissioner Jeff Long isn’t taking sides. “It is up  to the taxpayers,” he said, calling it a “Catch-22” because without it there  will be a lot fewer road improvements.
County commission chairman Keith  Greene is against the tax. He said TSPLOST may hurt the local  economy.
“As a consumer, an additional one-percent tax may make Georgia  less attractive to shoppers commuting and therefore not worth the trip from  Tennessee or Alabama.
“The region becomes less attractive for economic  development. TSPLOST will affect fuel and energy costs, which make it more  difficult to attract new businesses.
“TSPLOST is another level of  bureaucracy. Catoosa County currently has local control with SPLOST, which will  be more efficient than TSPLOST.”
State Rep. Jay Neal of LaFayette said  recently he has not made up his mind on the tax. At a recent candidates forum  sponsored by the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce, Neal said he was “leaning” toward “no” and had not early-voted yet because he’s “still wrestling with this  one.”
Perhaps some of the strongest rhetoric against the tax comes from  Dalton mayor David Pennington.
“The test of true leadership is the trust  and respect it inspires,” Pennington said. “(TSPLOST) does not pass this  test.

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