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Sales tax can bring matching state cash for roads, libraries

SPLOST vote scheduled for Tuesday

POSTED: March 16, 2009 12:26 a.m.

SPLOST is often the mechanism that brings local funding to new construction projects.

But there are also other sources of state and federal funding for those same projects that would not be possible without SPLOST money.

Roads are the best example, said Assistant Hall County Administrator Phil Sutton.

By providing a portion of the money for new road construction up front, the state will pay for the remainder of the costs.

"If it’s a state route the state is going to pick up the lion’s share of it," Sutton said. "And if it’s a local road then it can be 50-50."

Depending on what type of road will be built, the state could pay from 50 to 95 percent of the costs.

Almost all of the road projects on SPLOST VI will use other funding sources.

Road resurfacing, which is funded exclusively by local money, is the exception.

"One of the reasons that we have $750 million worth of road projects going on right now is because of SPLOST," Sutton said. "We were able to do the engineering and design work to draw attention to the need for the projects and that leverages the state and federal funds."

Libraries also get a state matching contribution, Sutton said.

"The South Hall Library was a $6 million library and the state paid $2 million and we paid $4 million in the budget. But actually construction came in under budget so we only paid $3.7 million for a $6 million library," Sutton said.

The Sardis Road Connector, a North Hall project, would be especially dependent on SPLOST funds to be completed.

"I think Sardis Connector is going to be a bigger local match at this point," Sutton said.

Sutton said the county could not afford to build any of the new roads unless SPLOST passes.

"They couldn’t happen without SPLOST. Absolutely not. There’s no way we’d have the money to do it any other way than with SPLOST," he said.

Hall County is also hoping to get federal stimulus funds to help complete SPLOST projects.

"We’re attempting to get some stimulus money for sewer projects," Sutton said. "They have some forgivable loans that they’ll forget up to 70 percent of the loan amount. So there’s a chance some of that money could be leveraged. But again, we don’t know for sure. We just have to apply. It’s very, very competitive."

Sutton did say that funds for some road projects, such as paving sections of Ga. 365, will likely be included in the federal stimulus package.

Hall County voters can go to the polls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.



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