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With SPLOST VIII approved, here’s what happens next
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Hall County elections officials begin tabulating the early voting results from voting machines as polls close Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, at the Hall County Elections office. - photo by Scott Rogers

Not that it will go off the radar, but the just-approved SPLOST VIII might be put on ice a bit until revenues start flowing in late next year.

“From a financial standpoint, there’s probably not any immediate things that we’ll have to do,” Hall County Administrator Jock Connell said last week, after voters overwhelmingly approved Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VIII.

The county may order Fire Services equipment because “it’ll take a year to build them,” he said.

Also, the SPLOST Citizen Review Committee will be revisited.

“It’ll still be nine members but will be constituted a little differently, because the cities felt like they needed better representation,” Connell said.

The group meets quarterly to hear about upcoming and current SPLOST projects.

Other local governments also are looking ahead to how they’ll proceed with the program, which is projected to bring in about $217 million between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2026. 

SPLOST, which became a potential taxing method for governments through a state law passed in 1985, is a 1% sales tax, or a penny on the dollar, with proceeds divided between the county and its cities. The money can only be used for capital projects, not for funding operations.

The county and cities have released a list of their projects, which include improvements for roads, parks, public safety, trails and greenspace.

Much of what’s on the projects list “is needed … and if SPLOST hadn’t passed, then we would have had to go back to the drawing board and see what’s available in the general fund,” City Manager Bryan Lackey said.

Looking ahead, “we know our ($37 million) allocation, so as we start our budget process in January, we’ll build in (new SPLOST projects) to our capital (improvements) program,” Lackey said. “We can’t spend any money until it starts coming in as part of (2020-21) budget, and those items in the budget won’t see any expenditures until later in the year.”

Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said the South Hall city is looking ahead with its six-year paving program, having its on-call civil engineering firm evaluating roads.

Likewise, Oakwood “will be programming” its six-year road paving project, City Manager Stan Brown said.

“Other SPLOST-funded projects will be in a planning/design phase over the next few months, until collections start in July 2020,” he said.

An early project for Gainesville could be renovations to the Gainesville Civic Center at 830 Green St., Lackey said.

“We don’t know exactly what will go into that,” he said. “I know there’s a huge need for audio-visual upgrades, to try to modernize (the center) a little bit. I don’t think it’ll ever compete with the (Ramsey Conference Center) … but we need to update the Civic Center in a lot of ways.”

One of Hall County’s biggest efforts in SPLOST VIII will be road improvements — a $73.6 million expense.

They include the Sardis connector running from West Hall to North Hall and widening of Spout Springs Road in South Hall. 

A contract for right of way acquisition services along the Sardis Connector, which would run from Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 in West Hall to Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 in North Hall, is set to be presented to the Hall County Board of Commissioners this week.

Also included in the roads allocation is $26.8 million for right of way acquisition and other preliminary work in Spout Springs’ second phase of widening from Union Circle to Thompson Mill Road.

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