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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