Cobb SPLOST Referendum Barely Passes

Unofficial final results give "yes" votes a 79-vote edge as county officials brace for a possible recount.

By a  razor-thin margin, Cobb County voters on Tuesday approved a four-year, $492 million referendum that will extend the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to pay for a wide range of transportation, facilities, public safety and parks and recreational improvements.

But the vote might be heading for a recount. 

Final unofficial results tabulated by the Cobb Board of Elections showed that 21,525 votes were cast in favor of the SPLOST, or 50.09 percent of the vote, and 21,446 votes were opposed, or 49.91 percent, with all 153 Cobb precincts reporting. Those numbers include absentee ballots and the results of early voting. 

That's a difference of 79 votes, and typified the tight results that swung in either direction several times during the vote-counting Tuesday night. 

That margin of 0.18 percent was even closer than the September 2005 election that enacted the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax by a comparatively easy 114 votes.

There’s no reason to think that the fierce battled waged between advocates and opponents of the SPLOST extension has come to an end.

As questions arose during the night about recounts of the paper absentee ballots and recanvasses of the electronic votes, Cobb County officials didn’t have the answers yet.

The “current goal is getting an accurate count of the votes cast,” Cobb government 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.

The vote lead went back and forth between approval and rejection from the time the first numbers came out around 7:30 until the final numbers arrived three hours later.

While the sales tax held the lead most of the night, the “no” side moved ahead by 56 votes in the second-to-last release of vote totals from the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration. But the final six precincts reversed the result and pushed the SPLOST to the unofficial victory.

That excitement came after a day featuring light turnout across Cobb. Less than 11 percent of the active registered electorate of 392,589 voted in an election with only one issue: whether to extend the SPLOST for four more years.

An estimated  of the new SPLOST will be spent on projects in East Cobb. The current SPLOST is set to expire at the end of this year. 

Cobb County SPLOST Referendum 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 Percentage 50.09% 49.91%

Unofficial results from the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration as of 10:40 p.m.

Leo K. Freeman March 15, 2011 at 11:58 PM
I would just like to know what the Cobb County Government does with all the money they bring in that they need this SPLOST renewed again? Please give us taxpayers a break for once and cut back on your spending instead of tax increases.
Wendy Parker (Editor) March 16, 2011 at 12:02 AM
So Leo, if the SPLOST isn't approved, what should the county do to pay for the improvements on the current list?
Bernie March 16, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Wendy, some of the items on the list I would deem as unnecessary. Given the times, it would be refreshing if our government officials would tighten their belts as we are doing as individuals. Also, why was this vote not part of a general election. Seems a little underhanded to do it as an off year election. I am not against a sales tax for necessary improvements. But, surely a good share of those on this current list were not necessary.
Wendy Parker (Editor) March 16, 2011 at 12:48 AM
What do you think is unnecessary? There are so many things that have been neglected in East Cobb alone because of Cobb's pledge to be frugal, and I understand that. But we haven't had a proper public debate about what we think is necessary and what isn't. That's what I'd like to see coming out of this referendum regardless of how the vote turns out. Most of the discussion has taken place in the context of what it's costing us instead of what we value as citizens about the public services and amenities we all seem to want.
Bernie March 16, 2011 at 12:53 AM
In your opinion why was that debate not done? The expiration date of the this SPLOST surely has been known. Also, why was it an off year election?
Eric March 16, 2011 at 12:55 AM
I love seeing the "Ax the Tax" signs in yards next to newly paved roads. Sort of a "I got mine, to hell with yours" attitude. I would like to see the age demographics of this vote - I bet it would fall in line with the older generation that doesn't want to pay school taxes. At the same time they complain about the state of the country as we lag behind most industrialized nations in important areas like math and science.
Wendy Parker (Editor) March 16, 2011 at 12:58 AM
I think we may end up rehashing all the arguments that took place in the fall before the Cobb commission even voted to put this up for referendum. The anti-tax sentiments of voters in the 2010 elections certainly played into all this, and you saw what the commissioners did to whittle down the original 6-year SPLOST to 4 years. That's a major reason why we haven't had the debate.
Leo K. Freeman March 16, 2011 at 01:07 AM
Cobb County rakes in plenty of money through the taxes they already have in place, plus what they bring in from fines and traffic tickets. I do WORK for my money and I would like to keep as much as I can instead of it being spent needlessly on Government projects. Plain and simple, control the spending.
M. Fresh March 16, 2011 at 01:08 AM
Do you know if the results included absentee and early votes? thx
Wendy Parker (Editor) March 16, 2011 at 01:11 AM
Absentee ballots have been counted. Just waiting on about 30 or precinct results.
Mad hatter March 16, 2011 at 11:48 AM
I have enough money taken from me by the loser we have for president. SPLOST is just another way to screw over hard-working Americans. Cobb has enough to take care of the necessities. This tax is underhanded and a complete slap in the face to cobb citizens.
Bob Sakers March 16, 2011 at 03:05 PM
I really have a difficult time understanding either side of these discussions. The fact of the matter is that 89% of 'registered voters' view 'one cent' to be an insignificant amount to be concerned with. I voted yes because of improvements made with the 2005 SPLOST money, why did anyone find 'one cent' so important that it was worth damaging Cobb County's fiscal stature in the Bond Market. Without it you have several choices (a.) borrow money for necessary improvements, (b.) ignore necessary improvements, (c.) increase the milage rate on real estate, etc. Pick your poison, but better yet find something for the 'anti everything' people, Tea Partiers and Bob Barr to focus on that is substantive and a real value added to Cobb County.
M Robertson March 16, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I think we should put off all of the infrastructure improvements to the county until I retire, that way the next generations can pay for it or I can sit back and watch the county deteriorate. Isn't that essentially the logic behind "Ax the Tax"? Wake up people, do you not see the need to widen county roads, add sidewalks, and make much needed improvements to the place where you live? There is a provision to upgrade and replace fire fighting equipment. If you or your neighbor's house catches on fire, don't you want the firemen to have proper equipment? This mentality that we don't have to pay for anything is so short sighted and absolutely ridiculous.
Bob Sakers March 16, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Amen!! But it is tough to wake up people who are thinking only about themselves. I had a Professor named George Cabot Lodge who often referred to 'The Tragedy of the Commons' which speaks to a group of people who are only interested in their own agenda, ---so much so that the Community is significantly damaged.
Vote Again March 16, 2011 at 07:13 PM
One word on the demographics issue...everyone in my family voted "yes" from my 68 year old mother to my 19 year olds son and all the brothers and sisters in between. On "wants" vs. "needs" some want to assume the role of dictating what they see as necessary. If you don't use the parks, and you don’t care about water features or team sports facilities (not to mentions Senior Centers) PLEASE don’t assume everyone agrees with your opinion. This vote may have been on a special ballot, but unless you live under a rock in Cobb County, and since it's had significant coverage in the AJC I'd say all of metro Atlanta, you've had more than enough information to either vote by mail (which requires you to do almost nothing but mail a letter) vote early for an entire week at whatever polling facility is most convenient OR show up for a virtual no line wait at your local voting location. It's ridiculous to thing that this somehow slid under the radar. Quit making the date an "excuse" for people on either side of the issue not coming out to vote...it's a sad apathy that has taken over our country NOT a date set for voting!
the legal beagle March 17, 2011 at 12:33 AM
I resent it when people think that the elderly voted against this issue. I am happy that I am not responsible for school tax. I paid the school tax while both children and both grand-children were in school. Now it is their turn to pay for their children. I view the SPLOT tax the same as I view upkeep on my home. Having a nice area to live in is something I enjoy and is an asset. My most driving reason for going and voting YES was being annoyed by tea baggers like Bob Barr. I am surprised that they didn't call in Palen. I am 73 yrs old, white and female. Who would have thougt it?
Vote Again March 17, 2011 at 12:38 AM
My family is solid Cobb County Republicans; I think the current property tax is fair (Seniors shouldn't pay for schools) and a SPLOST is a great way to keep Cobb DEBT FREE...and isn't that what conservatives are support?
M Robertson March 17, 2011 at 04:12 PM
No, most present day conservatives don't support much except cutting taxes for large corporations and the wealthy, which increase debt. What conservatives went on the record as supporting SPLOST?
Leo K. Freeman March 17, 2011 at 11:35 PM
No one has even answered my question. What is the Cobb County Government doing with the money it is already collecting? Why must it always be more? Some of these projects this tax is supposed to fund are totally ridiculous. For example, medians on Windy Hill Rd?? Why? It will be nothing but a traffic nightmare during construction and a mess afterward. Keep the turn lane intact so people can get in and out of the businesses easily.
the legal beagle March 18, 2011 at 01:56 AM
Leo--we read you the first time.


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