To learn about the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, go to gainesvilletimes.com/splost. There you can read a document that outlines state laws regarding SPLOST and answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the tax. You’ll also find previous stories published in The Times concerning this month’s SPLOST vote.
How do you know if projects approved for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funding are getting anywhere?
Local governments have to tell you.
State law provides county residents a way to check up on the progress of SPLOST projects, but without actively seeking answers, they might miss the opportunity.
The law requires each government that uses the tax to keep records of each project it funds and publish a progress report in the local newspaper.
The published report must include the originally estimated cost of the project, any changes to the cost of the project and the amount spent to date on each project.
The law also requires that auditors verify local governments’ SPLOST spending records and make their own report about the way local officials have presented their progress reports to their residents.
The city and county officials’ report is required to run in the local newspaper only once each year.
Gainesville officials published the city’s most recent report on SPLOST spending in The Times on Dec. 4. Hall County officials published one nearly two weeks later.
The county also posts monthly reports on SPLOST spending on its Web site, said Tim Sims, financial administrator for the county.
“You can come just tell where the projects are based on that report,” Sims said.
If folks are not satisfied with the information in either of those documents, Sims says he will be happy to answer any questions about where SPLOST funds are headed. He’ll also address why some projects, such as the Hall County jail, seem to be completed in a jiffy while others, such as plans for Fire Station 16, exist only on a map.
“I could either find the information out for them or answer them or direct them to the person that could,” Sims said.
But if it’s money that went to a specific municipality in the county, people will have to contact an official there, Sims said.
“The burden doesn’t lie on the county to make sure (cities) are spending their money correctly,” Sims said.