At that time, local taxpayers will decide if they want to be involved in the Northwest Georgia Regional Sales Tax for transportation projects. Thaxton reminds that county board members have no choice but to get the proposed tax on the ballot.
“If we don’t, our participation matching funds of 50 percent will be affected,” he says. “If it is voted down, our portion of this money would be lower.”
He is concerned about how approval of a new regional sales tax could affect Polk’s future Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) revenues. The TSPLOST will be an additional one cent added to the seven already in place.
Thaxton admits he doesn’t know if it will be approved. His personal opinion is that – unless the economy improves – no one will be receptive to a tax increase.
However, he believes that no county can opt out of this vote, and Polk will be a participant if Northwest Georgia voters approve the proposal.
If it passes, Thaxton says, Polk would get $1.2 million annually for paving, which is more than is now being received from state funds.
He thinks one project of local interest could be presented to the regional roundtable that would find favor with its members - expanding Highway 101 to a four-lane route into Rome. This could be a combined project of Polk and Floyd counties.
Thaxton also predicts 2011 will be another tough budget year for county officials, but pointed out that Polk’s finances are sound.
“During the last election campaign, some ads indicated the County was out of money,” he says. “This is not true. We are not rich, but Polk is on solid financial standing. We have been able to stay within our budget for the past two or three years.”
Thaxton lauded board members, department heads and staff that had stepped up to the plate and met demands of the economy and reduced revenue stream.
He notes that the board has cut the budget by about $2.4 million during the past two years and would be prepared to make more if needed.
The board has had an attitude that there will be no tax increase, according to Thaxton. He says the county government will live within the budget as people are doing at home.
“Everyone on the local level has been conservative and know we have services we must provide to citizens, including public safety and the courts,” he explains. “We are pleased with our accomplishments. Many counties in Georgia have had to take drastic measures by furloughing employees – even police officers.”
Thaxton pledges to continue to work with board members to take care of county employees.
He says that they have met all expectations that have been placed before them. “All departments have stepped up and helped us bite the bullet to keep expenditures down despite the fact they have not had a pay raise in two years.”