Columbus Sales Tax: Yes or No?

June 17, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WXTX) -- In a new campaign ad, Mayor Jim Wetherington and several city councilors go on camera to ask citizens to vote for the sales tax on July 15th.

The TV spot is just one of many campaign tools paid for by the "Yes For Public Safety" Committee.

"The local business community is all for this, the people I've talked to. They know what it takes, we can actually have a safe city and it won't cost the city anymore money," said Tom Bryan, Co-Chair "Yes For Public Safety".

But at least one group of voters is against the proposed sales tax.

Longtime city government activists Bert Coker and Paul Olson have formed a committee called, "Be Smart, Vote No LOST".

Coker says they don't trust city council to use the money for public safety and road improvements, as the Mayor has promised. "Mainly because the council does not say what they will do with it, they do not do what they say they're going to do with the money," said Bert Coker, from "Be Smart, Vote No LOST."

"I think you have to take the mayor at his word. I think it will be used for that, and of course we have some interest in prevention programs also, it's much cheaper to prevent crime than to incarcerate for sure," said Bryan.

Before today, the leader of the Interdominational Ministerial Alliance, which represents more than 60 churches, said he was against the sales tax.

But after meeting with Mayor Jim Wetherington, the ministers group changed their position, and now say they are in favor of it.

"I'm going to appoint a commission that will report to me about best practices in (crime) prevention and how we can implement those programs that are working in other cities," said Wetherington.

The one percent sales tax is expected to generate $36 million a year, to add 100 additional police officers.