By Alison James
“If we don’t pass this, we’re not going to ever have any recreation in Beauregard.”
These were the ominous words of Beauregard High School principal Dickie Brown, who opened Beauregard’s town hall meeting Tuesday.
The meeting was held to educate people, and encourage them to vote yes, on an upcoming vote for a 1 percent sales tax increase in the county. The increase – which would only apply to sales, not property, tax – would bring the county rate up to 8 percent from its current 7 percent.
The 1 percent, if passed, will be split between county recreation – to be divided among Loachapoka, Beauregard, Beulah and Smiths Station – and the county sheriff’s office to hire more county deputies and school resource officers to increase school safety.
Beauregard, which has already purchased land for a sizable park and athletic complex, would be able to use the increase to put playgrounds, sports fields, walking trails and more on that property.
“This is a good opportunity to do something for the kids,” said Ray Porterfield, president of the Beauregard Youth Athletic Association. “We need more space to grow.”
About three dozen people, including Beauregard and county officials, attended Tuesday’s meeting. Two opportunities remain to attend a meeting and become informed prior to the Sept. 9 vote:
Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. in the Beulah Elementary School lunchroom.
– Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Loachapoka High School lunchroom.
“People say, well, you can get a grant,” said county Board of Recreation President Jerry Southwell. “Here are the cold hard facts: You don’t get a grant if you live in an area that’s unincorporated. If we’re going to fund it, this may be the only way we’re going to fund it … If we don’t build some fields in Lee County, we need to set out a project and tell all businesses and industries that are looking to move to this area that the county is not going to look after their children in terms of recreation. They certainly don’t need to bring industry in and build and produce and develop if we’re not going to have facilities and things for them to do.”
County Sheriff Jay Jones was also present at the meeting to explain how his department would benefit from the increase. He emphasized that the money cannot and will not be used for anything but hiring new officers.
“If this thing were to pass, you’ll see more deputy sheriffs out here in the county,” Jones said.
The increase, if passed, will go into effect in December.