Acworth and the SPLOST: A Preview
Multiple local public works projects are in the balance in this controversial election.
Tuesday's vote on extending Cobb County's Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for four more years has important ramifications for the Acworth Police Department and business owners along historic Main Street.
The Acworth city government would receive $13.3 million out of the $492 million that the 1 percent sales tax is projected to raise from Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2015. The SPLOST money would fund public works projects including a $4.75 million police headquarters.
"We've occupied our current building since about 1994," Police Chief Michael Wilkie said, "and then we had 20 officers serving a population of eight to nine thousand. Now we have 50 officers serving a population of 20,000."
Space has become a premium in the old facility. Officers use closet space as offices, and evidence is piled on top of evidence for lack of storage.
The new facility would be a 10,000-square-foot add-on to a property adjacent to the current facility. The building would give the department more working and storage space and the ability to host members of the community for police functions. The four other departments sharing the old facility also would expand, occupying the space vacated by the police.
Additionally, SPLOST funds would go to two improvement projects along Main Street. All railroad crossings in the city would be improved and converted to silent crossings at a cost of $1.5 million; silent crossings are designed to be impossible for motorists to get around when down, allowing trains to pass through cities without sounding their horns.
Parking along Acworth's Main Street and Senator Russell Avenue has become an issue between City Hall and many business owners and employees of Main Street stores, who must move their cars every three hours to avoid a parking ticket. If the SPLOST extension passes, $725,000 will be allocated to create additional parking downtown.
Other Acworth public works projects using SPLOST money:
$1.1 million for roadway improvements to Blue Springs Road between Main Street and U.S. 41.
$975,000 for roadway improvements to Southside Drive between Taylor and Carruth streets.
$425,000 for McClain Circle roadway improvements.
$853,141 for street resurfacing and $60,000 for paving equipment.
$500,000 for drainage stormwater improvements and repairs.
$175,000 for new sidewalks.
$475,000 for renovations at Logan Farm Park.
$200,000 each for renovations at Cauble and Newberry parks.
$295,000 for improvements to the Acworth Sports Complex.
$2.5 million to realign the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Mars Hill Road and add a turning lane.
A complete list of Acworth SPLOST projects can be found here.
A total of 6,522 Cobb County residents voted early in the one-item special election, which represented barely 2 percent of the registered voters in the county. Supporters and critics of the SPLOST having been debating and campaigning for months in advance of the vote.
Supporters of the measure have coalesced into a group called Citizens for Cobb's Future. The group argues that the extension of the SPLOST would allow Cobb County to proceed with public works projects without having to take out massive loans that would necessitate other tax increases.
Critics of the tax include the Cobb County Taxpayers Association, the Cobb Libertarian and Georgia Tea parties, and Americans for Prosperity. Those groups say that the SPLOST takes $600 out of the pockets of each Cobb County family every year and that the $400,000 cost of the election, inflated project costs and the use of illegal immigrants in some projects hurt the county.
Voters Tuesday should report to the same polling places they use for presidential or congressional elections. The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. If you are unsure where your polling place is, check your voter registration card against the following table:
|Acworth 1 A||Northstar Church (3413 Blue Springs Rd)|
|Acworth 1 B||Acworth Beach House (2293 Beach Street)|
|Acworth 1 C||Acworth Intermediate School|
Stick with Acworth Patch throughout Tuesday and Wednesday for election coverage.