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Hall County discusses upcoming sales tax projects
Next round could generate $195 million for government
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners reviewed a list of capital projects Monday that likely will be funded by the next round of the special-purpose local option sales tax.

Voters get a chance to approve the 1-cent sales tax in March.

SPLOST VI, as it will be called, would provide $195.2 million for Hall County projects in the areas of public works, parks and leisure, courthouse and administration buildings, water and sewer, fire and emergency medical and building construction. Specific projects will be determined before voters are asked to approve the tax.

The SPLOST also would provide about $44.8 million total for Hall County’s municipalities — Clermont, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Gillsville, Lula and Oakwood.

How does SPLOST work?

"It’s a 1 cent sales tax, a penny tax, on primarily products purchased in Hall County," said Assistant County Administrator Phil Sutton. "The 1 cent sales tax is used to pay for capital items that are voted on by the public, and it’s a temporary tax that lasts for five years."

SPLOST V will expire June 30, 2009, and if residents vote to renew the tax, SPLOST VI will be in place for six years.

SPLOST VI will appear on the ballot March 17, 2009, the last election before SPLOST V expires.

Sutton said SPLOST has been instrumental in funding county projects. Without it, funding would have come from higher property taxes.

"Without SPLOST, the county really has no way to keep up with the growth we’ve been experiencing over the last 20 years," Sutton said.

Additionally, about 40 percent of the SPLOST money comes from people who live outside the county who purchase things in Hall County when they come to work, shop, go to Northeast Georgia Medical Center or spend time on Lake Lanier.

Commissioners discussed the SPLOST projects during a work session Monday.

"There’s still a little work to go," said Commissioner Steve Gailey, referring to some small adjustments the board of commissioners will consider before they vote to approve the projects, which will collectively cost $240 million.

Among the SPLOST VI projects is a $53.2 million sewer infrastructure expansion, which Gailey and Sutton agreed would be beneficial to the county.

"The sewer on (Ga.) 365 is a big one. It’s something we really need to do," Gailey said.

"Sewer really sets the pace and the quality of development ... which we are very much in need of," Sutton said.

Sutton said if the commission approves the list of SPLOST VI projects at its Thursday board meeting, it can begin working toward intergovernmental agreements with the various municipalities to get things started as soon as the end of September.

"I think it’s going to be a great six years ahead," said Commissioner Billy Powell, referring to the length of time the tax will be in effect.