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Meeting to set stage for new SPLOST

POSTED: March 23, 2014 11:30 p.m.

Hall County and area municipal officials will gather today to begin laying the groundwork for a new special purpose local option sales tax.

According to Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton, officials will hear a presentation regarding the history of SPLOST.

Officials also want to gauge interest in proceeding with an extension of the tax.

“(The meeting) gets cities and the county on the same page about SPLOST VI,” said Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett, adding it also prepares the stage for engaging the public on its interest in a SPLOST VII.

SPLOST VI was approved by voters in 2009 and is set to expire next year.

“It will be extremely important ... to develop a public participation program that will seek input from citizens in developing a SPLOST (project) list,” Knighton said.

While many local government officials appear to desire a SPLOST VII, convincing the public of its need will not be easy. Revenues from SPLOST VI have underperformed, and the public’s appetite to continue the tax may not be strong.

For example, initial projections put SPLOST VI revenue for the county and participating cities at about $240 million over the six-year life of the tax. Those estimates have now fallen to $152 million.

A SPLOST to fund transportation projects was also shot down by area voters in 2012.

“The environment, right now, is not very friendly for that type of thing,” Hall County Commissioner Craig Lutz said.

Knighton said formal public meetings to address potential projects to be funded by SPLOST VII would likely begin in May, and the issue could come before voters this fall. He added government officials don’t want to be presumptuous about what projects they would be willing to support through SPLOST funds.

“That’s not our role,” Knighton said, adding the meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Hall County Government Center located at 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville is more informational than advocacy, as well as being a requirement of the process to initiate a ballot proposal.


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