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Sales tax meeting draws few Hall residents
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SPLOST VII public input meeting

What: Presentation and discussion on what projects to fund if 1 percent sales tax is extended

When: 5 p.m. Dec. 11

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville

SPLOST project list

Potential projects to be funded if SPLOST VII is approved by voters:

• E-911 system upgrades
• Library renovations
• Sewer system projects, including expansion of both the North Hall and South Hall lines
• Public safety vehicles
• New recreation fields and enhancements to existing parks
• Road resurfacing
• Senior Life Center renovations
Residents can share their opinions and comments on SPLOST VII online at www.hallcounty.org.

If Hall County officials thought additional public input meetings would generate greater turnout and broader interest in a new round of special purpose local option sales tax, they got a rude awakening Thursday night.

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.

Local officials had hoped that added meetings Thursday night and on Dec. 11 would bring some clarity to voters and, perhaps, drum up support for passage of the tax.  

But few county residents, about a dozen or so, showed up at the latest meeting.

Opinions about SPLOST VII were somewhat split among those who did attend.

Flowery Branch resident David Johnson said it’s 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.

Johnson said he is concerned about the fact SPLOST money cannot be spent on maintenance and operations costs, meaning these expenses related to capital projects will fall on the general fund and other revenue streams in the budget.

But Robert Horne, a Gainesville resident, said a sales tax, which would be paid by both residents and visitors in Hall County, 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, 2015, on March 17.

The latest revenue projection for SPLOST VII stands at $158 million.

Hall County and local municipal officials intend to sign an intergovernmental agreement in January and formalize a specific list of projects to be funded if voters approve SPLOST VII.

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