Polls are open until 7 p.m. today across Hall County as voters decide on a one-cent special purpose local option sales tax.
SPLOST VII would start July 1 if approved, and is projected to bring in $158 million over the five-year life of the tax. The money would have to be spent on infrastructure improvements in the county and its cities, which would divide the proceeds.
Those in favor of the tax say the money is needed for an extensive list of projects and visitors as well as residents would have to pay. They say property taxes may have to be increased if the vote fails. Opponents say past SPLOSTs have had broad categories of projects that allowed elected officials to turn them into slush funds to avoid heat over property taxes.
Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said 1,721 ballots were cast during early voting, and 94 absentee ballots have been received.
As of 3 p.m. today, another 2,149 people had cast ballots.
Turnout is expected to be low, as past SPLOST votes have been decided by less than 10 percent of the county’s registered voters.
An E-SPLOST proposal to fund education was approved in 2011, but turnout was just 8.3 percent, or 6,757 of 81,360 registered voters.
And In 2009, for example, just 9.3 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the SPLOST VI election. Only 7,565 votes were cast among 81,307 total voters.
Approved by 62 percent of voters, SPLOST VI had an initial revenue projection of about $240 million over the six-year life of the tax.
But actual collections will barely surpass $154 million.