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Officials to discuss new SPLOST projects, timetable tonight
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Local government officials will meet tonight to strategize about a new special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST VII, that is likely to come up for a ballot referendum this fall.

The Joint Municipal Association meeting will include representatives from Hall County, Gainesville, Braselton, Buford, Clermont, Flowery Branch, Gillsville, Lula and Oakwood.

Officials are expected to lay out the calendar for public hearings on SPLOST VII and begin identifying what projects could be funded through an extension of the tax.

SPLOST originated in 1985 as a 1 percent sales tax to pay for government infrastructure and development expenses. Money from the tax has been spent on everything from road improvements and public works projects to libraries and parks to public safety operations and building construction.

SPLOST VI was approved by voters in 2009 and is set to expire next year. Initial projections placed revenue for the county and participating cities at about $240 million over the six-year life of the tax. Those estimates have now fallen to $152 million.

Gainesville’s share of SPLOST VI revenue will top only $22 million, down from the projected $33.5 million it was projected to receive to fund a new fire department headquarters, develop the downtown streetscape and make improvements to roads and parks.