Lula is back on the ballot this March with the special purpose local option sales tax — but this time in Banks County.
The city, which is mostly in northeast Hall County but has acreage in Banks, stands to gain $111,000 over five years if the referendum passes, with $88,800 designated for roads and $22,200 for water and sewer projects, City Manager Dennis Bergin said.
The Banks County Board of Commissioners voted Nov. 23 to set the March 1 vote on the 1-cent tax. If the referendum is approved, collections would start July 1.
“All the cities in Banks were able to resolve differences with Banks County government and now each community will receive a distribution with regards to population — as was our city’s initial request,” Bergin said.
Banks has some 18,415 residents, with most of those in unincorporated areas. Lula has about 2,800 residents overall, with 160 of those in Banks.
Lula would have to spend the SPLOST money on the Banks County side of town.
The road money would be spent primarily on resurfacings, as “that’s our biggest challenge,” Bergin said.
As for the water money, “we’re talking about doing some enhancements,” he said. “Banks County has some low-pressure areas in their unincorporated (areas), so it’s very likely we’ll spend a lot more money to assist them with that.”
Earlier this year, Lula picked up nearly $2 million over five years from passage of a SPLOST referendum in Hall County.
According to a county document, the city will receive $654,752 for roads, streets and trails; $1 million for water and sewer infrastructure; and $300,000, public safety equipment.
Bergin has said the water/sewer money would be spent on system enhancements and line replacement, plus relieving debt that’s on both systems, Bergin said.
Other plans call for finishing out a seven-phase “streetscape” plan, sprucing up downtown with new sidewalks, landscaping and other improvements.
The city is about to go into a new phase of the long-planned project — improvements between Athens Street and City Hall. Eventually, Bergin has said, the SPLOST money “would allow us to have connection to all city parks, schools, along Main Street and the post office.”
Lula also plans to use SPLOST money to extend trails and resurface roads.