History is something that I have always been interested in and I’ve had a little trouble over the past week trying to put a label on a famous legend from merry ‘old England.
Was Robin Hood the earliest member of the TEA Party who had had enough of taxes, or was he a pre-cursor to the wealth redistribution politics of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, or a mixture of both.
Nobody likes to be taxed. They didn’t like it in Robin’s day and we don’t like it today.
But — here’s a question — what would Rome look like today without the special purpose, local option sales tax — or SPLOST — or the education local option sales tax — or ELOST?
There’s the water and sewer infrastructure work that people don’t see but certainly appreciate. There was the widening of Shorter Avenue from the very first SPLOST. There was the Armuchee Connector, a new courthouse, the Forum River Center, State Mutual Stadium, the Rome Tennis Center and at some point in the future soon there will be a new Ag Center. We’re kind of anxious to see how the latter develops and how it can help bring visitors to Rome in addition to serving local agri-business interests.
Let’s not forget all the new school buildings constructed in the last twenty years thanks largely to ELOST. Without ELOST, those improvements would have had to come with bonds, which cost local property taxpayers.
Many of the projects I just mentioned are used every day. Now imagine those same projects if they were constructed solely from property taxes. Never mind, it wouldn’t have happened — they wouldn’t have been built.
Why not? Back to Robin Hood — we don’t like paying taxes. Here’s the trick SPLOST and ELOST also gets people from outside our community to help finance those projects. That’s changed the face of our community for over the past 33 years.
It’s been said many times that visitors to the community pick up about 40% of the sales tax tab. Let’s be clear, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that figure — but I do know that folks who visit Rome and drop some money while they’re in town to help carry the SPLOST weight.
That being said, yes there has been some investment in private investment in Rome. It’s has been beneficial and we don’t take any of that for granted either. Take the new Hampton Inn & Suites, the new Courtyard by Marriott, the RiverPoint Apartments, The Lofts at Third and Broad and dare we not forget The Spires at Berry College which will be coming on line next summer. We’re also looking at the new Ledbetter Properties East Bend shopping center on Hicks Drive which will open in the fall of 2020.