As we approach November 5th, the day when voters in Union County will have the opportunity to cast their ballot on the continuation of the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on past SPLOST projects and what they have meant for the tourism industry and therefore in turn, local businesses and citizens.
The existing SPLOST was approved by Union County voters in 2008. Among the projects completed since that time were the construction of the Union County Community Center, now home to the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce; the Farmers Market and Cannery; a Meeks Park expansion; the Covered Horse Arena; and the Library renovation. Each of these projects may be utilized by both residents and visitors to our area. As we all know, visitors bring tourism dollars to our community.
Many may wonder why tourism matters and even go so far as to say that they would rather not have tourists to our area, but allow me to explain why tourism should matter to everyone. In its simplest form, tourism matters because it creates jobs and saves us money. Visitors come to Union County and spend money in local businesses. These businesses collect and remit sales tax. The sales tax helps to pay a significant portion of the important and necessary services that all residents enjoy such as quality roads and bridges and safety services. Additionally, it allows for county resources that we all enjoy, but would not otherwise be available. These items then no longer have to be paid for strictly out of property taxes. Everyone can appreciate lower property taxes.
The decision to vote yes or no for the continuation of the SPLOST is yours. I encourage you to ask the appropriate questions that will lead you to an informed decision. I also want to remind you that while the current SPLOST is in effect, your local purchases in local businesses are one of the easiest and best ways you can show your support for your neighbors, for your community, and for your own well-being.