Clayton County voters also face SPLOST referendum and party questions on ballots

Southern Regional Medical Center bailout and municipal projects on SPLOST project list

JONESBORO — Clayton County voters will be voting for more than elected candidates to offices or party nominations during the upcoming primary election.

Voters will also be asked to weigh in on issues that affect their taxes and state issues through a referendum and party questions.

Chief among these items is the referendum on continuing the government Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for another six years. If approved the tax, known as the 2015 SPLOST, will collect $272 million for a long list of projects, including $50 million to bail out Southern Regional Medical Center.

Officials at the hospital say they need the money because an unfunded federal mandate requiring them to treat any patient who comes into the hospital’s emergency room, regardless of their ability to pay for the care, has created a financial crunch.

However, the 10-page proposed SPLOST project list includes money for projects to be conducted by the county and its seven cities. The county’s share, which includes the hospital money, is $217.9 million. The seven cities will share the remaining approximately $54 million, although Riverdale and Lovejoy have given up portions of their proceeds to help the hospital.

In addition to the hospital assistance, some of the projects on the SPLOST list include a trade center and small business incubator, “welcome to Clayton County signs,” new equipment for city and county public safety departments, a new roof on the Historic Courthouse,dog parks, parkland acquisition, sidewalks, computer software, a jail surveillance system, roadway maintenance projects, renovations for Jonesboro’s Lee Street Park as well as a new city green for the town, a police precinct and streetscape work for College Park, a multipurpose event center for Forest Park, a street sweeper and dump truck for Lake City, a multipurpose facility for Lovejoy, a senior center for Morrow and phase 2 of Riverdale Park.

The full SPLOST project list can be found in the multimedia documents section on www.news-daily.com.

The Democratic Party put five questions on its primary ballot, including whether other Clayton County cities should give up some of their SPLOST proceeds to help Southern Regional Medical Center.

Other questions on the ballot include whether the state should raise its minimum wage above $5.15 and whether Georgians’ federal tax dollars should be returned to the state to fund Medicaid expansion and relieve the indigent care burden on hospitals.

The party is also asking if state Constitutional amendments should be passed to make education the state’s top funding priority in its annual budget and to create an ethics commission not tied to any elected office.

The Republican party placed no party questions on its primary ballot.