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SPLOST wins passage from Hall voters

9 percent of registered voters went to polls

POSTED: March 18, 2009 12:38 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Charlie Farr, left, chats with poll worker Catherine Braselton as he prepares to vote Tuesday at the Gainesville IV voting precinct inside the Georgia Mountains Center.

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Hall County residents have voted to extend SPLOST for another six years.

Of the 7,559 people who voted, 62.25 percent voted in favor of extending the 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and 37.75 percent voted against it.

Hall County and Gainesville officials were happy to learn that SPLOST VI passed.

"It speaks volumes of this community that we understand we will not be in this negative environment forever and they’re looking forward to coming out of it," said Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Oliver. "We’re controlling our own destiny, which is so important."

Hall County Administrator Charley Nix said though it is a relief to know that SPLOST passed, it is not a magic wand.

"We still have obviously the general budget to work through so SPLOST doesn’t solve all our problems. We still have a lot of challenges ahead but I feel much, much better that we’ll meet all of those," Nix said.

Only 9.3 percent of Hall County’s registered voters came out to the polls.

"It’s pretty slow," said Charlotte Sosebee-Hunter, the county’s interim elections superintendent, said Tuesday afternoon.

Hall County resident Kevin Jarrard, an opponent of SPLOST, said he was disappointed in the turnout. He said he believes the special election was a way to ensure low participation and increase the chance the sales tax extension would be approved.

"The election wasn’t decided last night, it was decided last year when the commission set the election date," Jarrard said. "It’s a victory for special interests and a blow to representative democracy and the working people of this county who are going to bear the burden of this tax."

Jarrard said he hoped his efforts made people think twice about their vote.

"Maybe if nothing else, at least folks thought about their vote a little more before they cast it this time. That low turnout just really disappoints me."

Gainesville City Councilman Bob Hamrick said he felt positive about SPLOST before the election, but knew it was up to the voters.

"Obviously, you know we had gone ahead with a lot of faith in going ahead with public safety buildings, and this relieves us now of having to go a different way to finance it," Hamrick said.

City officials plan to break ground later this week on a new public safety facility for police and fire departments that is to be funded with SPLOST revenue.

County officials hope that within six years the sales tax will raise $240 million for infrastructure improvements across the county, and have plans to build roads and public facilities with the proceeds.

Hall Commissioner Billy Powell said he feels the results show voters are confident in the commission, and officials will work hard to ensure the SPLOST money is spent wisely to better the county.

Staff writer Ashley Fielding contributed to this story.



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