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Regional groups final roads meeting is set for Wednesday
Hall sales tax would rise to 8 percent
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Roads meeting

What: final meeting of the Georgia Mountains Transportation Roundtable
When: 5-7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center, 120 Paul Franklin Road, Clarkesville


Area road projects will get a final review Wednesday by the Georgia Mountains Transportation Roundtable before they go to voters next year in a referendum on the 1 percent sales tax for transportation.

The roundtable, a 26-member panel comprising top city and county officials, has until Oct. 15 to complete the task, as do the other 12 regional commissions around Georgia.

The group is set to meet 5-7 p.m. at the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center, 120 Paul Franklin Road, Clarkesville, wrapping up a process that began in January with a meeting in Dahlonega.

A five-member executive committee, including Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner, later held several meetings to hammer out a project list to recommend to the roundtable.

The roundtable includes Bruner and Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Oliver.

Last week, Oliver said he felt confident the referendum, currently set for July 31, would pass.

"I do think that this community and this area is smart enough to recognize that everybody will pay for the roads, everybody will be part of the team," he said.

The tax will be decided by a majority vote — 50 percent plus one — in individual regions throughout Georgia.

Hall is part of the 13-county Georgia Mountains region, which is expected to garner $1.25 billion over the 10-year life of the tax, with 75 percent of that amount going to regional projects and 25 percent to city and county governments to use as they see fit.

If the referendum is approved, Hall County's sales tax would rise to 8 percent from 7.

Hall County proposes some $300 million in projects under the tax, including the widening of Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway and Spout Springs Road in South Hall, U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway in North Hall and completion of the Sardis Connector in northwest Hall.

Another $61.5 million would go to Hall County from the 25 percent pot.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and state chamber officials already are gearing up for the campaign ahead.

"We have less than a year and that sounds like a lot of time, but it's not when you start educating people," said Kit Dunlap, chamber president and CEO, during a Sept. 21 meeting of the chamber's Issues Committee.

At that meeting, Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann expressed concerns about overcoming "the anti-tax sentiment we find ourselves in right now."
"Education, education - get to them one on one," Dunlap said.