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A Blog about Real Estate, How it Can Be Damaged, and Disputes Over its Transfer

This blog is a personal blog written to discuss legal issues affecting Georgia property, and how it is damaged, transferred, and fought over. I write this partly to keep abreast of the law, and partly to offer a forum for my writing. In order to find content, I often analyze Georgia Supreme Court decisions. I try to update this blog as I can, but writing is a time consuming process.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Case for the 2011 SPLOST in Forsyth County, Georgia

One of the items on the election ballot in Forsyth County, Georgia on November 8, 2011 is the SPLOST, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which seeks to raise money for a new jail and courthouse for the county.  There is no question the sales tax should be approved.

In general a sales tax operates differently from an income tax in that it is not progressive in nature and does not penalize anyone.  A SPLOST is a form of a sales tax that is often used in a Georgia county to help fund essential government services such as schools, fire stations, or court houses.

Forsyth County has been in dire need of improvements to its courthouse facilities and jail for more than ten (10) years.  Transportation of inmates from other jails for court appearances and hearings in the county alone impose a huge cost on justice operations that exceeds the cost of a new jail.  Every time an inmate housed in a different county has a court appearance, Sheriff Deputies must be employed using a county squad car to ferry the inmate to the current county courthouse and back to the other county.  This form of operation is grossly inefficient and wastes current taxpayer money.  This creates a pressure on judges to impose lighter sentences and gives criminals an advantage.

The current courthouse was designed to service the needs of county residents until the early 1990's.  Forsyth County, however, underwent an explosion of population in the 1990's and 2000's.  The small courthouse in the square cannot handle civil case loads any longer.  The jury assembly room has already been converted to a courtroom, and anyone faced with the unpleasant prospect of waiting for a hearing on a motion or claim may find themselves waiting in line for long periods before their case is called.  What this means to ordinary citizens, among other things, is that businesses and creditors owed money cannot reliably file a suit to collect in the county.  Delays are rampant, there is a shortage of judges, and defendants who refuse to perform their obligations can literally tie their cases up forever while the plaintiff waits for a court date.

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