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‘Historic times’ for SPLOST support

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SPLOST

The $63.8 million special purpose, local option sales tax package passed with 60.73 percent of the countywide vote Tuesday, failing in just five of the 25 precincts.

“I think these are historic times,” Floyd County Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said. “The people in the outlying areas of the county are coming together for the community.”

The six precincts in the city of Rome have voted in favor of every SPLOST that passed, beginning in 1986 with the six-month levy to widen Shorter Avenue.

That one also passed in the unincorporated area, as did a 12-month SPLOST in 1994 for the Walker Mountain Landfill and the 1995 SPLOST that paid for the Floyd County Jail expansion and new fire stations.

One of those fire stations has yet to be built — city and county officials are still discussing the location — and, since then, it’s been up to city voters to carry the SPLOSTs.

Sales tax packages that passed in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2013 all failed to win a majority in the unincorporated area as a whole.

However, this year, 10 of the 15 precincts that voted “no” on the last one flipped to “yes.” That included seven precincts that haven’t supported a SPLOST this century: Barkers, Chulio, Etowah, North Carolina, Texas Valley, Vann’s Valley and West Lindale.

Wallace credited the SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee, a diverse group of appointed residents that spent about six months reviewing projects for the package.

The centerpiece is an $8 million agricultural center that moved dozens of advocates from the county’s rural reaches to attend the vetting session in a show of support.

Cave Spring, Glenwood and East Lindale turned thumbs down in 2013 but supported the 2017 package. Other county precincts where the “yes” votes won were Alto Park and Riverside — reliably pro-SPLOST — Everett Springs and Garden Lakes.

The historically anti-SPLOST precincts of Armuchee, Floyd Springs, Fosters Mill, Howell and Watters rejected this year’s package as well.

Fosters Mill also was the only precinct to vote against the schools systems’ ELOST, education local option sales tax.

Rome voters also elected three city commissioners and seven school board members.

In the commission race, incumbents Jamie Doss and Wendy Davis were the top vote-getters in all six precincts. The third winner, Randy Quick, was a favorite in all but the South Rome precinct, which went for Monica Sheppard instead.

Of the seven school board winners, Will Byington was one of the top three choices in five of the six precincts. Faith Collins and Melissa Davis joined him in Mount Alto North. Jill Fisher and John Uldrick were the other two in East Rome, Town Rome and Mount Alto South. Fisher and Beeman rounded out the top three in North Rome.

South Rome went for Beeman, Faith Collins and Alvin Jackson.