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Hall to release sales tax projects list
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Tax meeting

What: Officials will hear from the public on thoughts concerning the proposed tax extension.

When: 5 p.m. Thursday

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

Residents planning to attend a final public input meeting Thursday on a proposed extension of the special purpose local option sales tax should have some projects to consider if they go.

Hall County plans to release its draft project list for SPLOST VII sometime today, officials said at a Monday meeting of county and city government officials.

The governments are eyeing a March 17 referendum on the five-year extension of the 1 percent sales tax for capital projects. If approved, it would take effect July 1.

The public meeting is set for 5 p.m. Thursday at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

“We want to listen to citizens, sit back and look at all the input we’ve got,” special projects coordinator Jock Connell told officials during a presentation Monday at the Government Center.

“We just need to make sure ... as we make our final decisions, that we’ve really thought through everything the public has told us and that we try to make sure we’re in step with where (residents) are on this.”

A few SPLOST projects have been bandied about over the past year, including 911 system upgrades, library renovations, sewer system projects, new public safety vehicles, new recreation fields and enhancements to existing parks, road resurfacings and Senior Life Center renovations.

“We’ve taken input in a variety of ways,” including Web-based comments, Connell said.

The previous public meeting, held Nov. 13 at the center, drew only a handful of residents.

Officials originally planned to hold the referendum in November, but “it became clear we were not at a point where we were ready to do that,” Connell said.

“We needed to get some more public input, we needed to have some more dialogue between the county and the cities and we just needed to gain a little better

clarity and better vision of where we wanted to go with this SPLOST.”

Many governments won passage of tax referendums in November, Connell said.

“I think that’s a very good sign as we move forward,” he said. “There does appear to be an appetite for this penny for capital projects.”

The latest revenue projection for the new sales tax stands at $158 million.

Under a provision of state law, the county has identified projects with countywide impact that amount to 14.5 percent of the total estimate, or $22.9 million. The rest would be divided among the governments.

In case revenues are higher than expected, the $22.9 million is the most that would go for the countywide projects, Connell said.

Also, if the tax passes, a citizens committee would be created to “oversee what’s going on, get an update on projects, see where budgets are at, where revenues and expenditures are and ... make sure that we as the county and cities are doing what we said we would do,” Connell said.

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