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Possible sales tax projects will be topic of 2 meetings this week
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SPLOST VII meetings

Government discussion

What: Officials are set to talk about possible projects that would be included on the ballot.

When: 2 p.m. today

Public input meeting

What: Officials will hear from public on thoughts concerning the proposed tax extension.

When: 5 p.m. Thursday

Where: Both meetings will take place at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

Area residents have two chances this week to hear or give input about a new round of the special purpose local option sales tax.

Government officials plan to meet at 2 p.m. today “to discuss possible projects, including those that will be municipally owned or operated, for inclusion in the referendum” in March, according to Hall County government’s public notice on the meeting.

The meeting will involve officials from Hall and each of the municipalities in the county and will take place at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

The second of two public input meetings on the proposed tax is set for 5 p.m. Thursday at the Government Center.

An earlier meeting, held Nov. 13 at the center, drew only a handful of residents.

Richard Mecum, chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners, said Sunday he hasn’t heard from a lot of residents on the subject, but those who have spoken with him have suggested specific projects or talked about “what their primary interests are.”

He said he has heard talk about the need to widen Spout Springs Road in South Hall or build the Sardis Connector, a road connecting Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway in West Hall and Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road in North Hall.

“I haven’t heard from anybody who doesn’t want (the tax extended),” Mecum said. “I know (tax opponents) are out there. And here’s the interesting thing: They want roads and services, but they don’t want to pay any tax for it.”

A vote on the 1 percent sales tax, which would fund capital projects throughout the county, was postponed this fall after turnout lagged at three public input meetings in June.

But only a dozen or so residents showed at the November meeting. Opinions about SPLOST VII were somewhat split among those who did attend.

Flowery Branch resident David Johnson said at the time he believed it was time for taxpayers to get some relief.

“I think we should take a break from having that extra 1 percent sales tax,” he said, adding that comments by county officials that property taxes could rise to pay for road, sewer, building, parks and other capital projects unless SPLOST VII passes was a thinly veiled threat.

But Robert Horne of Gainesville said a sales tax, which would be paid by both residents and visitors, is a better method than property taxes to pay for needed infrastructure projects.

“Logically, it should (pass),” Horne said. “(SPLOST) is not new. It’s just occasionally people say they don’t want to pay

more taxes.”

Voters will decide the fate of SPLOST VII, which would last for five years beginning on July 1, on March 17.

The latest revenue projection for the new sales tax stands at $158 million.

Hall County and local municipal officials have said they intend to sign an intergovernmental agreement in January and formalize a specific list of projects to be funded the tax is approved.

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