The Concord Covered Bridge over Nickajack Creek, was renovated using SPLOST funds. A small group of Cobb residents is questioning the county’s administration of the sales tax. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

NEW DETAILS: Cobb residents weigh legal action over alleged SPLOST abuse

A group of Cobb residents is questioning the county’s handling of sales tax collection and spending, and have even raised the possibility of taking legal action.

Cobb collects more than a hundred million dollars a year using a special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) that can be applied to capital projects approved by voters. The program funds much of the county’s road infrastructure, but has come under scrutiny, especially after some large projects failed to account for ongoing operational expenses.

Former Georgia lawmaker Josh McKoon, an attorney, wrote a letter on behalf of the group to Commission Chair Mike Boyce back in December. That letter, the first step toward litigation, accuses the county of violating state law with respect to SPLOST.

Specifically, it claims the county has spent SPLOST funds on projects that were not approved by voters, and failed to account for surplus collection.

County Attorney Deborah Dance responded, saying the county has properly funded and administered the SPLOST program.

“Given the County’s compliance with Georgia law … and prior efforts to provide your clients with information concerning that compliance, the County is not aware of any additional information or actions that will serve to satisfy your clients’ concerns,” she wrote.

Having been rebuffed by the county and facing the possibility of a prolonged and expensive legal challenge, Jan Barton and Debbie Fisher, the Cobb residents behind the campaign, now say they are taking their case to the “court of public opinion.”

The women organized a meeting Tuesday to present their position to the public and seek support in pressuring the commission and lawmakers to adopt changes to SPLOST. About two dozen people attended.

Filing a lawsuit “would be the next serious step if we cannot get them, with public pressure, to do the right thing,” Barton said. “It could be quite a big multi-county effort.”

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