Approved airport referendum will not be on November ballot


The Grip has confirmed there will be no yes-or-no referendum regarding the proposed new Griffin-Spalding County airport on the November general election ballot.
During the airport discussion at the April 7 Spalding County Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Raymond Ray expressed concern, citing public comments made that evening indicating residents felt the proposed new airport was being forced on them, and he subsequently requested and made a motion that the measure be placed on the November ballot. Miller seconded that motion, which resulted in a 3-2 vote with Commissions Ray, Chipper Gardner and Bart Miller supporting and Commissioners Gwen Flowers-Taylor and Rita Johnson opposing the measure. Officials now say that yes-or-no vote cannot take place.
“You can’t have a pure straw ballot – a yes-or-no vote – on the ballot,” Spalding County Attorney Jim Fortune now says. “The direction they were going, they can’t go.”
He went on to say the precise ballot wording has not yet been determined and that additional action by the Board of Commissioners will be necessary.
“We’re going to need some direction from the Board to give us some idea – what do you want us to do?” Fortune said. “What, if anything, is going to be on the ballot, I don’t know.”
Gardner, who has openly expressed opposition to the proposed new airport based on a strong negative outcry from the majority of his constituents that have addressed the issue, said other options are now being considered.
“My understanding is that specifically as we voted at the (April 7) meeting the other night, just to have a straw poll, a referendum or straight yes-or-no vote on the ballot will not be allowed. We’re researching our options to see what is legal to get it on the ballot so the people can have a vote,” Gardner said. “They’re (attorneys) looking at legal opinions from I think the state Supreme Court to see what’s allowed. It may require another vote by the County Commission if it requires something other than what we voted for the other night to put it on the ballot. It’s apparently a very complicated issue. I’m not sure what all the opinions are and what we may or may not be able to do.”
Gardner said it would be permissible to present a straight yes-or-no vote regarding funding for the proposed new airport or improvements to the existing airport, such as a bond issue, but that decision has not been made.
“I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to do, or anything like that,” Gardner said. “I’m only one person and this will be a decision that the Board of Commissioners has to determine.”
He also said learning the original intent of the Board is not permissible has left him frustrated.
“Doing what people are telling us they want to do – vote on the airport – is what we’re trying to do; come up with a way to allow the citizens input is what we were trying to do,” he said. “I want to find some way to let the citizens have the input they’ve said they wanted on the new airport – yes or no. It will probably require another vote by the Board of Commissioners to proceed. It’s very frustrating for me to find out we can’t do it that way. It’s all up in the air.”DSC05416


  1. Tammy Shultz says:

    Why don’t they just do a survey on the Spalding County website like they did the SPLOST survey? They can do a yes or no question on there, can’t they?

  2. great way to clarify things there… Instead of detailing what exactly the issues are, we hear “its complicated, everything is up in the air, etc… etc.. etc…” When its NOT complicated. The Airport Authority Director has laid out the airport situation NUMEROUS times, and has been ignored, either on purpose, or by just IGNORANCE from those who can’t get over they paid for “no new airport” signs, when there never was a question of a new airport, the question was WHERE do Spalding residents want to spend Spalding tax dollars and how much. Believe it or not folks, due to grants from nationwide airport taxes and fuel charges, moving the airport to a new location out on Arthur K past the industrial park is CHEAPER BY ALMOST HALF than expanding the current location.

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