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Follow the money — here’s how sales tax funds could be spent by Hall and its cities
SPLOST VIII up for vote Nov. 5
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Traffic waits on Exit 12 in Flowery Branch Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. - photo by Scott Rogers

SPLOST VIII is the eighth incarnation of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, a penny tax that can only be spent on specific capital projects

Municipalities must sign off on an agreement by Aug. 21 about how they would spend the money it raised, which is projected to be $217 million. The sales tax would be collected July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2026, if voters approve it Nov. 5. 

The money is split among Hall County and its cities based on populations as of July 1, 2017, census numbers. 

The split
  • Hall County: 69.75%

  • Braselton: 1.31%

  • Buford: 0.79%

  • Clermont: 0.48%

  • Flowery Branch: 3.75%

  • Gainesville: 20.25%

  • Gillsville: 0.12%

  • Lula: 1.45%

  • Oakwood: 2.08%

  • Rest Haven: 0.02%

Breaking it down more, these are the top-ticket items each municipality is considering.

Hall County

Of a total $126,315,093:

$73.6M: Road improvements including the Sardis connector running from West Hall to North Hall, along with widening of Spout Springs Road in South Hall

$7M: Fire services

$7M: Trails and greenspace

$6M: Parks

$6M: Public safety, including the Hall County Sheriff’s Office

An additional $35,871,920 is set aside for Tier II countywide projects, which include an expansion of the fire training center, a new library in East Hall and a new cell at the landfill

Gainesville

Of a total $36,664,541:

$15M: Roads, streets, bridges and sidewalks

$9.16M: Parks

$8.5M: Public safety 

$4M: Downtown parking deck near the Gainesville branch of the Hall County Library System

City Manager Bryan Lackey said other project ideas include a new police training building, most likely near the police department’s firing range, and renovations at the Gainesville Civic Center, including a new audiovisual system.

Flowery Branch

Of a total  $6,792,614:

$5.7M: Roads and infrastructure, including improvements at Exit 12, where the Georgia Department of Transportation is planning an Interstate 985 widening

$383,384: Public works property and equipment

$415,000: Parks

$276,000: Public safety/police

Oakwood

Of a total $3,768,357:

$2.4M: Roads, streets, bridges and sidewalks
$800,000: Water and sewer improvements 
$600,000: Police vehicles and equipment

One of the traffic safety improvements the city is considering is radius improvements on several Thurmon Tanner Parkway intersections, particularly Chamblee and Plainview roads, City Manager Stan Brown said. The turn radius at the crossings “needs to be increased to better accommodate truck movements,” he said.

Lula

Of a total $2,621,793

$1.3M: Water and sewer improvements. “We have infrastructure that is over 50 years old. … A lot of that gives us the opportunity in replacement and upgrades, and of course the opportunity for us to build new wastewater facilities and water facilities,” City Manager Dennis Bergin said.

$1M: Roads and sidewalks; Bergin said Lula spends about $160,000 each year just on road resurfacing.

$262,118: Parks facilities, vehicles and equipment

Braselton

Of a total $2,374,789:

$1.2M: Roads, streets, bridges and sidewalks

$1.2M: Parks and leisure facilities


“No new roads are planned,” Town Manager Jennifer Scott said. “The funds would be used to do repaving as necessary and extensions to the LifePath.” The town has multi-use paths — known as LifePath — around and along Old Winder Highway/Ga. 211 in Hall, Gwinnett and Barrow counties.

Buford

Of a total $1,427,155:

No specific list was available, but Buford City Manager Bryan Kerlin said projects would be related to transportation. 

A thin portion of this town is in South Hall, with most in Gwinnett County. 

Clermont

Of a total  $864,877:

$432,439: Roads, streets, bridges and sidewalks

$432,438: Parks facilities and equipment

“Those are things we need to do in the town,” Mayor James Nix said. “You can’t use (SPLOST funds) for just maintenance. … You have to get money in before you can spend it.”

Gillsville

Of a total $220,746:

$66,746: Downtown projects, including a new parking lot with about 20 spots on land the city purchased earlier this year. Although Gillsville hopes to eventually build a new City Hall, SPLOST funding won’t be an option for that, Mayor Roy Turpin said. He said for now, the land can be used to alleviate a downtown parking shortage. “If you’re ever down this way around lunchtime, 12 to 1 o’clock, we have vehicles parked all out front, the back and even the parking in front of the post office is pretty much taken,” Turpin said. Another downtown development idea is converting a former general store next to the current City Hall into a space for local artists to display their work. The city is known for its art community, particularly with pottery.

$77,000: Roads 

$77,000: Parks; Turpin said the community building at Gillsville City Park could get an outdoor covered area.

Rest Haven

Of a total $38,210:

No specific list was available for this tiny town that  lies just off Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13, which is being widened between Sawnee Avenue in Gwinnett and Lanier Islands Parkway/Ga. 347 in Hall. Buford manages the operations of Rest Haven.


Compiled by reporters Megan Reed and Jeff Gill

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