MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Election day is coming to Milledgeville on March 21. Residents will vote on Baldwin County's SPLOST: Special local option sales tax.
County Manager Carlos Tobar says he wants folks to know how important their vote is. 13WMAZ’s Jessica Cha spoke with him to break down what work they've done in the past five years, and how the new one will help the community.
"A one cent sales tax is already existing, so we're asking our voters to extend it for another six years,” Tobar said.
Tobar says they use SPLOST funds to help improve the infrastructure.
"Water, sewer lines, road bases, resurfacing, airport improvements, public safety improvements, parks and recreation,” he said.
To figure out where and what to improve Tobar says he went to the people.
"I've been going to community meetings monthly for the last five years. Dozens of individuals have come and expressed what they wanted to see in the community.”
He says they created over 70 initiatives from people’s suggestions and concerns, and have completed almost every one with $50 millions dollars.
Over $30 million coming from SPLOST and $17 million including grants they’ve applied for.
"We've replaced two miles of sewer lines, we've installed twelve and a half miles of water lines, made a lot of airport improvements, and broadband,” he said.
Tobar says with the next six years of a new SPLOST period, they want to add to that list. Which includes building two new fire stations in the county's east side.
"This is something we've worked on for the past decade,” Baldwin Fire Department's Lt. Kevin Meek said.
He says the fire department takes the time to collect surveys and information regarding how far some communities are from fire services. They submit the information to the county and make requests based on what they need.
Meeks says he lives on Lake Laurel Road, which is five miles from the nearest fire station. That may not sound troubling, but he says it can raise your home insurance a lot.
"These communities are paying almost double what some of our interior communities are because they're outside of that five mile range,” he said.
Essentially, Meeks says the closer you are to a fire station, the more fire protection you have. He says communities closer to one have a lower protection classification that makes your insurance rates lower.
He says even a couple of yards can be the difference in paying a couple of thousand more in home insurance.
“You have my neighbors at the end of the street. They’re right at the five mile mark. They’re in a class three,” Meeks said. “I’m a couple of houses down, I’m at a class 10.”
Meeks says it's not just more expensive to live further from a fire station, it's also dangerous.
"Places like the lake that are recreation hotspots– we have boating accidents, drowning accidents. It takes us a while for even our fire boat to get down here. It seems like a lifetime when you're trying to get to someone in need,” he says.
Meeks says SPLOST funding makes projects like these work.
"In my opinion, it's the fairest way to get the resources we need for public safety and to protect the community,” he says.
Election day will be held at the Baldwin County Government building from 7 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Voters in Twiggs and Jones counties are also voting Tuesday on extending their penny sales tax.
Jones County wants to raise $23 million over the next five years for schools.
Some things the money will go for:
Renovating and adding on to Dames Ferry Elementary
Adding green houses at Clifton Ridge and Gray station
Renovating Old Gray Elementary for school support services, and also band equipment, a JROTC, ranges, buses, labs, and much more.
Twiggs County is also voting on a school SPLOST. Some of the things on their shopping list include:
Textbooks, e-books, and school furniture, and safety and security equipment.
Improving athletic fields, and a system-wide backup power system.