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Hall County commission chairman guarantees voters will pass sales tax

POSTED: October 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A referendum for another round of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax may be a tough sell to Hall County taxpayers, one Clermont official said in a meeting with other local government officials Monday.

Hall County commission Chairman Tom Oliver assured Clermont city Councilman John Brady and other elected officials and city managers from municipalities across the county that "we will pass it."

The sixth round of Hall County’s 1 percent sales tax will go before voters in March. Monday, county officials presented a list of $240 million worth of projects that revenues from the tax could fund.

Those projects included a $10 million relocation of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office headquarters, an allocation of $11 million to build athletic fields in parks in North Hall and South Hall and more than $44 million that will fund projects in individual cities.

Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, praised the list of projects slated for the next round of sales tax funding.

"(The list) has a pretty wide array of infrastructure needs that are important to everybody, but also some quality of life things on there that kind of raise the bar," she said.

And though officials from most of the cities slated to receive money from the tax said they were satisfied with their allocation, Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs said it’s the residents who may not be satisfied.

Scroggs mentioned a list of intersection improvements along McEver Road that Oakwood residents thought would occur with the passing of the last sales tax, but have yet to see.

Scroggs asked Oliver to provide him with a list of the status of projects that should be funded with the current sales tax, which government officials term SPLOST V.

"They know they voted for them in the last go round," Scroggs said.

Those road projects have been picked up by the state Department of Transportation. But there was discussion about creating an oversight committee, similar to one in Gwinnett County, that holds biannual meetings to let residents know the status of each project funded by the sales tax.

Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras also acknowledged the hurdles in getting voters to support the 1 percent sales tax in March. She said that officials needed to learn how to explain that the sales tax would benefit the county as a whole even if some areas were left out of the project list.

With the blessing of Hall County voters, the next five-year round of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax would generate $240 million in revenue between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2015.



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