JEFFERSON — After much discussion, Jackson County officials have postponed a special purpose local option sales tax vote until the November election.
Representatives from the nine affected municipalities and the county government reached the consensus during a meeting Tuesday at the county administration building. The move would allow more time to plan SPLOST V projects and determine how to present items on the ballot.
“We want to make this as clear as possible,” said Hunter Bicknell, Jackson County commission chairman. “We need to make this easily understood because there will be some people voting that day who have never heard from us before.”
Because of changes in the law, local governments only have two opportunities to hold a SPLOST vote this year — July and November.
Otherwise, they would have to wait until next March.
If voters don’t approve the referendum in November, it would be a year before it could again appear before voters. The current SPLOST expires June 2011, so a ‘no’ vote in November would leave a gap in SPLOST revenue.
“Bills have to be paid regardless,” said Donald Elrod, Jackson tax commissioner.
But officials say even with the general six-month lag time between voter approval and distribution, if voters give the referendum the green light in November, that would allow a continual flow of SPLOST funds.
SPLOST funds have been used in Jackson County to construct public safety buildings, maintain roads and improve public utilities.
During the meeting, Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner suggested the group consider using the population data from the 2010 census to determine what percentage of the future SPLOST funds each entity would receive.
“We may have those figures before SPLOST V goes into effect, but even if it’s not available before 2012 that would still leave us with five years (of collections),” Joiner said.
Jackson County receives the bulk of the SPLOST IV funds, about 74 percent. Of the cities, Commerce receives the most, about 10 percent, and Jefferson receives the second highest city allotment, about 7 percent.