Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sunday Sales & SPLOST 4 Referenda

Here is an excerpt from a Banner-Herald story about Athens-Clarke County’s anticipated Sunday sales referendum from about ten days ago:

Commissioners had considered placing Sunday sales on the ballot in November but opted not to because of a conflict with a November vote on continuing a 1 percent sales tax for local schools.

"We don't want to clutter up the ELOST vote," Commissioner Alice Kinman said. "I don't think it's good to have those two hitched together."

Commissioners say they are concerned that Sunday sales could draw opponents to the polls who also would vote against the Education Local Option Sales Tax, which will fund school construction.

County elections are on an even-year schedule, and Athens-Clarke County would have to pick up the $54,000 tab for a special election this year, an expense the Clarke County School District budgeted for but Athens-Clarke County did not.

"I just don't see how you could justify the cost," Commissioner Doug Lowry said.

A couple of thoughts come to mind.

The first is that the scheduling of referenda, either directly on SPLOST questions or other matters, by the Unified Government and/or Clarke County School District so as to rig the turnout to get a preferred outcome is yet another reason that Georgia's SPLOST law needs to be rewritten.  The idea of splitting the Unified Government’s Sunday sales referenda from the CCSD’s SPLOST 4 referenda so that our betters can prevent the wrong people from voting on both issues simultaneously is inappropriate and condescending.

The second is that City Hall’s preference for a March vote out of monetary concerns rings hollow.  Both November 2011 and March 2012 fall within the Unified Government’s FY 2012 budget, which has already passed.  If funds for a vote in November were not in the budget, were funds for a vote in March?  If so, why?  And if so, could not the funds be used just as easily in November?  If not, the supposed preference for the latter date due to fiscal concerns is specious.

Besides which, if the Commission wanted the vote in November, it would find the money for it, just money has been "found" over the years for all manner of expenditures.  As Kinman makes quite clear, the concern of our betters in government is political, not fiscal.

In the event, I will vote for Sunday sales and against the CCSD's SPLOST 4.  The fact that it will take two trips to the poll separated by months will have no effect whatsoever on my positions.

As an aside, Georgia’s presidential preference primary is scheduled as part of Super Tuesday in February 2012, but that is not one of the opportunities for ballot questions specified by state law.

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Anonymous said...

"If funds for a vote in November were not in the budget, were funds for a vote in March? If so, why?"

yes. Presidential preference primary.

james said...

But isn't Georgia's presidential preference primary part of Super Tuesday in February?

watching said...

Give the ABH credit for remarkable coverage of the issues surrounding the November ELOST vote. They've claimed that it involves 'no politics' while also noting that it does involve politics.

Most interesting to me is the way local leaders 'circled-the-wagons' ostensibly to try and ensure the money spigot continues flowing. You had even the BOE supervisor supplying 'data' that compelled de-linking the referenda!

Finally, how remarkable that our elected leaders seem to be so concerned with the same elective process that brought them to power! Before they were elected, I imagine they'd never dreamed that they could manipulate the process to get whatever outcome they desired!

ACC voters are particularly ill-served by delaying the Sunday sales vote.