Cobb SPLOST Approved by 79-Vote Margin
The special tax was accepted by almost 11 percent of the county's registered voters.
In 2005, Cobb County's 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax passed with 114 votes out of some 40,000 cast.
Tuesday's unofficial results show it passing with an even smaller margin.
The Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration's website indicates that 42,971 people voted in the election, with 21,525 Cobb citizens siding with SPLOST and 21,446 against it. That's a difference of 79 votes.
Earlier in the day, election workers forecasted that about 10 percent of Cobb's 392,589 active registered voters would participate in the election. The final percentage: just under 11.
As questions arose during the night about recounts of the paper absentee ballots and recanvasses of the electronic votes, Cobb officials didn’t have the answers yet.
The “current goal is getting an accurate count of the votes cast,” county spokesman Robert Quigley said in an e-mail at 9:50 p.m. “We will focus on the next steps once we complete the task at hand.”
Quigley said the elections board’s attorney should be able to provide answers Wednesday about what happens next.
SPLOST, a penny-per-dollar sales tax, is expected to raise $492 million from Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2015, to pay for roads, parks, public safety improvements and other projects across the county. Powder Springs has claimed a $10.68 million share of that money.
Cobb County Election Results
|153 of 153 precincts reporting||Yes||No|
|Should Cobb County collect a 1 percent SPLOST for capital projects from Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2015?||21,525||21,446|
Unofficial results from the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration as of 10:33 p.m.
At the Polls:
7 p.m. If my phone is correct, the polls are now closed. Check back periodically to see if the vote totals have come in.
6:06 p.m. Apologies for not updating until now. Got caught up in a couple conversations. I talked with Duncan Maihal a little bit ago. He's a Powder Springs resident originally from Kenya.
He moved to the United States when he was 23; the 38-year-old has lived in Powder Springs for three years. He said he is appreciative of every chance he gets to vote because voting is not commonplace in Kenya. A video of him discussing the differences in voting between the two countries is attached to this article.
The precincts visibly have more people coming in, perhaps because it's time for many to be getting off work.
I'm headed home now to keep track of the vote totals as they come in. The voting deadline is at 7 p.m., so check back periodically after that to see if the final results have been released.
4:12 p.m. Back at the Coach Ford Center precinct. There's a semi-steady stream of voters walking in and out.
3:55 p.m. Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration Director Janine Eveler said after contacting precincts at 3 p.m., overall voter turnout is still projected to be around 10 percent.
But, she added, there are still chances for an increase.
“Our only hope is that the people who missed the morning will come by after work,” she said.
The elections office checked with the precincts once earlier for totals and will not again until the 7 p.m. voting deadline, she said.
3:44 p.m. The reason Vivian Cumbess, 58, said she voted for SPLOST is to protect property owners from carrying further tax burdens.
"To me, these improvements have got to be made. You've got to maintain things," she said. "And to me, this is the least painful way to do it. It takes it off of the backs of just property owners."
Following directly behind her was a no vote from 25-year-old Steven Weiss. He said Cobb County citizens are paying too much in taxes, and officials should use the money they already have more efficiently.
3:01 p.m. Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration Director Janine Eveler said this morning's rain might have scared off a few voters.
As of 10 a.m., the voter turnout rate showed that 10 percent of Cobb's 392,589 active registered voters were on track to go to the polls by tonight's 7 p.m. deadline.
"Things are a little slow, but they’re going well," she said.
Eveler said some more voters might trickle in after work.
2:42 p.m. No campaigning outside the Ron Anderson Recreation Center.
2:27 p.m. SPLOST opponent Bob Anderson, 63, said he has two main concerns with the special tax. One is the extent of the projects list, he said.
Parks, he gave as an example, should be funded privately instead of through taxes. His son grew up playing at Powder Springs Park when it was privately funded, he said.
Also, today's election should have coincided with a general election, he said.
2:19 p.m. Not very many people visiting the First Baptist Church location. Perhaps most people who intend on voting will be stopping by after work, as the polls are open until 7 p.m.
1:57 p.m. Vince and Denise Curry, ages 53 and 51 respectively, said they voted for SPLOST because people passing through the Cobb County would be using its roads and sometimes public safety. This is why those non-county residents should pay the extra penny on sales tax, the Currys said.
1:42 p.m. No one is campaigning outside the First Baptist Church polling location either.
1:30 p.m. It's a gloomy day in Powder Springs, but a few voters are trickling into the Coach Ford Center voting location.
A sign in front of the center's Reception Hall warns campaigners to stay 150 feet from the building.
One Powder Springs voter, 67-year-old Chuck Gibson, said he was giving his support to SPLOST. But, he added, he would like to see the funding used exactly how it was listed before the vote.
Another supporter, 53-year-old Powder Springs resident Mike Brock, mentioned how law enforcement would have to endure furloughs or cuts without the special tax taking care of funds for maintenance work. If SPLOST were to fail and public projects and staff were to stay the same, taxes would be raised in a more expensive way than SPLOST, he added.
"We're paying it now, so it's not like we're paying a new tax," Brock said. "It's something we're adjusted to and paying, and if we don't, we're going to have to start cutting in other areas or raising taxes in areas that will far exceed what we're going to pay on the penny."
An opponent who declined to give her name said one of the main reasons she disagrees with SPLOST is because of the park projects. The parks are currently in good shape and don't need funding for repairs, she said.
By Wednesday morning, Powder Springs will know if it will get an estimated $10.68 million from a whole lot of pennies collected across Cobb County over four years.
Cobb voters will flock to the polls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, deciding if that money will come to fruition. They will do so by casting their ballots for or against the continuation of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST.
Here are the three precincts for Powder Springs, with the predict codes in parentheses:
- Coach Ford Center at 4181 Atlanta Street (PS1A)
- Ron Anderson Recreation Center at 3820 Macedonia Road (PS2A)
- First Baptist Church at 4330 North Avenue (PS3A)
You can check your voter registration status and which polling place you're assigned to at Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s website. If you aren't assigned to one of the three locations above, you can find yours from Cobb County's precinct map.
A sample ballot is attached to this article.
SPLOST, a 1 percent sales tax increase, collects an additional penny on every dollar spent. It's projected to pull in $492 million for designated projects across the county.
Powder Springs' $10.68 million share will go toward the following projects:
- $1.68 million for road resurfacing.
- $1.63 million for general street improvements, including sidewalks, curbs, gutters, storm drainage, striping, signage and intersections.
- $1.63 million to improve the Powder Springs Senior Center and city facilities and for a multipurpose theater.
- $1.5 million for Powder Springs Park , including a new master plan for the park; new parking; new baseball fields; new scoreboards; a "hub" building for storage, concessions and meeting space; and funding for the park's swimming pool to be moved to Wild Horse Creek Park. This project would be a joint effort between Powder Springs and Cobb County.
- $1.4 million for sidewalk improvements, including Warren Farm Road, Lindley Circle, Sharon Drive, Park Drive, Louise Street, Brownsville Road and the Preston Place subdivision.
- $252,000 for computers and video systems for Powder Springs police cars.
If the above items, labeled as Tier One projects, are completed before the SPLOST funds run out, the city plans to use the extra money for additional road resurfacing and general park improvements.
Powder Springs officials have said that no SPLOST could mean more property taxes. They also believe the money designated for facility improvements could push the unfinished Cultural Arts Center at the Coach Ford Center to completion.
John Howell, a member of the Powder Springs Youth Baseball league's board of directors, asked attendees of Saturday's opening-day ceremonies to vote for SPLOST, as some of the money will go to the park.
Cobb County has a SPLOST in place, and it is set to expire Dec. 31. If approved today, the new SPLOST would kick in immediately after that expiration, keeping the sales tax at 6 percent. The SPLOST would then continue until Dec. 31, 2015.
Much debate has swirled across the county, especially since the Cobb County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 on Dec. 14 to send the SPLOST referendum voters.
Supporters, including Citizen's for Cobb's Future, argue that 30 percent of SPLOST money will come from non-county residents. They also say that the process is transparent, as the projects are made public prior to the vote.
They argue that in a down economy, taxes should be as low as possible. They also say that the county should use the dollars it already has coming in more effectively, and that some of the SPLOST projects belong on a "wish list" instead of being funded by the tax.
After Sunday's SPLOST protest, advocates took their turn in the square for a Family Fun Day.
Early voting brought in 6,522 votes, which represents about 1.7 percent of Cobb’s 392,589 active registered voters.
If you're headed to the polls today or have already been, tell us how things look in the comments. Check back to the site periodically throughout the day for updates and later tonight for vote totals.