Lula is developing a backup plan in case Hall County’s special purpose local option sales tax is not extended after it expires next year.
“We are taking the position, based on conversations with our finance committee, that there will not be a future SPLOST,” City Manager Dennis Bergin told City Council during a Monday night work session.
“And so then we will have to begin to understand how we maintain our level of service without the benefit of SPLOST, which we use for capital projects and resurfacings.”
Local government officials were set to approve an agreement on SPLOST VII over the summer, with the Hall County Board of Commissioners approving a resolution that would have put the tax to a vote this fall. In July, Hall officials postponed a vote until March on the new SPLOST.
The last revenue projection for the new SPLOST, which would last five years, was $158 million.
Officials have said they wanted to solicit more public feedback on what projects to fund through the 1 percent sales tax after turnout lagged at three public input meetings last month.
Bergin told the council that he hopes by November to “have a game plan that will be in place that you can consider for adoption.”
The action doesn’t suggest “that we’re not in support of SPLOST, but we’re a little concerned about whether the approach that’s being taken right now ... will be successful with voters.”
The issue came up as Bergin was talking to council about a couple of local road resurfacing projects.
“The upkeep of these streets and roads is costly, I’m sure,” Councilman Mordecai Wilson said. “Are we laying enough aside or do we need to find a way of making our revenue better?”
“SPLOST, SPLOST, SPLOST,” Mayor Milton Turner said.
Speaking after the meeting, Bergin said he’s not sure if SPLOST “will even make the ballot.”
He said he believes the biggest challenge in passing an extension of the tax “will be communicating the success of our current and past SPLOSTs.”
Bergin mentioned a past ballot item noting moving the post office from Green Street.
“This stuff can get you in trouble,” he said. “Here, we can show you every resurfacing job we’ve done on roads and (other projects). At the end of the day, you can see it, touch it, feel it and be held accountable for it.”
One of those projects is one that council voted on Monday night — new sidewalks and drainage improvements on Main Street between Athens and Cobb streets.
“That will come close to exhausting our (tax money),” Bergin said.