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Hall governments discuss sales tax for roads
Municipalities mapping out ideas for projects
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Hall County's municipalities are moving forward with the 2012 vote on a 1-cent sales tax for road projects.

During the Hall County Joint Municipal Association's quarterly meeting in Buford on Monday, officials continued talking about project ideas and how money will be distributed to cities.

"We've mapped out ideas and involved the cities with the ones that we think will get good voter support," said Stan Brown, Oakwood city manager and head of the association's transportation work group.

"They meet (Department of Transportation) criteria and have received not just city but county support, too."

The Transportation Investment Act passed last year by the Georgia General Assembly allows voters to decide whether to add the sales tax, first by setting up regional transportation "roundtables" and then by voting on a project list.

The Gainesville-based Georgia Mountains Regional Commission formed the Northeast Georgia roundtable, which is a 26-member group made up of mayors and top county government leaders from throughout Northeast Georgia.

An executive committee will do much of the work to pull together projects for a final recommended list.

The roundtable must decide on a final project list by Oct. 15.

On Monday, Brown presented a list of ideas, which will be narrowed down in coming months.

"After this group endorses these ideas, we'll move forward with the county end for regional support," Brown said.

The 13 projects on the "unconstrained" list include improvements along Lake Lanier Islands Parkway, Athens Highway, Thompson Bridge Road, Cleveland Highway, Lula Road, McEver Road and several Jesse Jewell Parkway intersections.

"We'll winnow down the unconstrained list to arrive at final ideas," said Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner, who is on the executive committee of the regional roundtable.

If voters within the district approve the tax on Aug. 21, 2012, the state would begin distributing proceeds in 2013, with 75 percent of the money dedicated to regional projects decided on by the roundtable and 25 percent going to local governments using their discretion on projects.

On Monday, the municipalities emphasized the importance of moving together as a group as project ideas are narrowed.

"The key for us will be if we go in with one voice and decisions are made in advance, we can come out a lot better as we talk to the county," said Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin.

The municipalities are also preparing for negotiations as 2010 Census numbers come out to determine formula funding.

"We should decide on our mediation process while we're all still friends," said Bergin, who is head of the association's local sales tax negotiations work group.

"If we work past that now and figure out the best way to remedy any arbitrations, it'll serve all of our interests."


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