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Hall County sales tax revenues well surpass last year’s
2022 SIGN .jpg

Sales tax revenues have come in way above projections over the last year, buoyed by the addition of online sales taxes. That means more money for capital projects in Hall County like road resurfacing and sewer improvements

The county estimated it would raise about $50.5 million from July 2021 through the end of last year, but revenues came in nearly 40% over projections over that span for a total of $70.5 million.

“We’ve seen record sales tax checks,” County Administrator Jock Connell said. “We were scratching our heads.”

Connell said he expects the new online sales tax, implemented in April 2020, was a large contributor to strong revenue. And inflation in certain areas, such as grocery prices, helps boost government funds, too. At its current rate, the county would bring in $303 million by July 2026, well over its $217 million estimate. 

Hall County, like most counties in Georgia, funds many large capital projects through a one-penny sales tax. That Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is voted on every 5-6 years, and Hall is now on its eighth SPLOST since 1985. Some major projects funded by SPLOST dollars include the Gainesville parking deck next to the downtown library, new ambulances, the East Hall library, water/sewer improvements and trail improvements. 

Revenues have come in higher than projected every month since the start of SPLOST VIII in July 2020.

If the county raises more money than anticipated, the extra funds get distributed to county road and water/sewer projects and to the cities, which receive about a quarter of SPLOST funds, distributed according to intergovernmental agreements.  

The county has used conservative estimates since being burned by the 2008 recession when sales tax revenue came in about $80 million under what the county expected. 

The COVID-19 pandemic started just months after voters approved the current round of SPLOST, and county officials thought they could see another significant dip, with important projects likely to go underfunded. 

With construction costs increasing, the county likely needs more money than originally anticipated to keep up with inflation, said Assistant County Administrator Zach Propes. Labor and material costs have risen throughout the pandemic, but current projections are strong enough to counteract those trends, Propes said. 

“I think when you look at inflation on the price of everything, we are probably going to continue to see healthy sales tax checks,” Connell said. “I don’t know how long that’s going to last … probably for another year and a half or so.”