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Hall sales tax extension could boost Vision 2030 plans

Program director Deal says new SPLOST would fund ‘big ideas'

POSTED: December 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A vote next year on the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax could give a boost to the idea conceived in the Vision 2030 program.

Denise Deal, executive director of the program, told a Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce gathering on Wednesday that five of the program’s "Big Ideas" are included in some form in the proposed tax referendum, set for March 17.

Vision 2030 grew out of a summit in March 2005.

A series of public meetings followed, and the group issued a final report in June 2006.

The plan was to create an overall vision or direction that residents would like to see for Hall County by 2030.

"This could be a huge shot in the arm," said Deal, who cited successes from the Vision 2030 plan, including the HealthSmart initiative and the Get Fit-Stay Fit corporate challenge.

Other initiatives continue to move forward, including a desired improvement in education.

"There is a desire for students to graduate with three pieces of paper, a diploma, some kind of certification in post-secondary training and a job offer," Deal said.

The projects on the new SPLOST proposal that originated in Vision 2030 include expansion of the planned Central Hall Trail between Atlanta Highway and McEver Road.

The trail eventually would reach from Longwood Cove to McEver with a return loop.

Other projects include a pedestrian bridge over Jesse Jewell Parkway, as part of a planned hotel and convention center, and funds for property to relocate the current Gainesville post office. There are also proposed funds for major public parks in North Hall and South Hall, as well as a regional welcome center along Interstate 985.

Deal said the organizers of Vision 2030 currently are planning a second summit next spring to evaluate the progress of the program and make any needed changes to the planning document.

County commissioners approved the new SPLOST vote Monday. If approved by voters, it will take effect when the current SPLOST expires next June.

The one-cent tax could generate up to $240 million for capital investment over six years.



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