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Jackson County cities discuss SPLOST possibilities
Tax likely would be used for road repairs, paying down debt
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JEFFERSON — Although their needs may differ, elected officials in Jackson County agree that passing a new tax referendum is crucial.

During a meeting Tuesday, officials began hashing out the details of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax V vote in July.

Arcade, Braselton, Commerce, Jefferson, Pendergrass and Talmo representatives all were present to discuss potential SPLOST projects they would like to see on the ballot.

“We haven’t had the chance to meet as a council to discuss the projects yet, but we will be discussing it during our (regular work session) Monday,” Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner said. “But I think that a lot of (our share of SPLOST V) funds would go toward paying the debt over at the parks and recreation facility. Roads are also an issue. We’ve got miles and miles of roads that need to be repaved, and we need to build a new library.”

Roadwork and debt repayment was a common denominator among requests at the meeting, which focused on general ideas for projects. More specific goals will be discussed at upcoming meetings.

Getting an affirmative vote in July is important, officials say.

“At this point we all need (SPLOST V),” said Hunter Bicknell, Jackson County Commission chairman. “A lot of you have said you would use the money to pay down debt; even if we don’t get (a favorable) vote, you will still have to pay that debt somehow.”

After being forced by the poor economy to implement furlough days and freeze employee salaries, Bicknell said the pending SPLOST funds could be the key to retaining employees.

“After three years without salary increases and furlough days that equal about a 5 percent pay cut, you reach a point where you start losing good employees that you don’t want to lose.”

The current tax, SPLOST IV, is set to expire in June 2011. If voters approve SPLOST V in July, local collections would continue. If voters do not approve the referendum, Georgia law requires that officials wait 12 months before bringing the issue before voters again.

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