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County, city officials to discuss sales tax projects

POSTED: May 21, 2014 4:00 a.m.

County and city officials have a joint meeting this afternoon to discuss how revenue should be distributed if voters pass the upcoming special purpose local option sales tax extension in November.

Revenue projections from the 1-cent tax range from $36.4 million over five years without an intergovernmental agreement to $45.3 million for six years with an agreement, according to Dawson County Manager Cindy Campbell.

"These projections are based on average as of February 2014 with $528,000. Then we added 7 percent growth each year," she said.

While capital construction projects like the jail and government center topped the county's planned expenditures for 1-cent sales tax revenue in past years, county officials have said roads are the top priority for SPLOST VI collections with an estimated 63 to 72 percent of the county's allocation for public works projects.

The county's wish list also includes between $3.9 to 6 million for park improvements, $5 to 7 million for public safety and up to $2 million for IT equipment and file storage.

District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon described the county's projects as only vital needs.

"The fun stuff that people like, there's very little of that in this whole package," he said.

On Monday, Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan distributed a listing of seven potential projects, ranging from reducing the debt on the municipal complex and revitalizing downtown to funds for a new city park and sidewalks. The city's list totals an estimated $9.6 million in projects.

"We've been working on this list for a fair amount of time. We've got some things down that we want to work on in the next few years. I'm hoping that [the city and county] can come to an agreement over this list without having to go through a big hassle," he said.

Campbell's presentation to the board of commissioners last week showed the county would receive the first 20 percent of revenue collected, as Georgia law allows.

She said the remainder would be allocated based on population. The 2010 census showed 2,536, or 11.36 percent, of the county's 22,330 residents living in the city.

City officials on Monday night discussed options that could include additional funds.

"Every city project, in essence, is a county-wide project and we don't prohibit county residents from using our parks and buildings or participating in our projects. This is our opportunity to do some projects that will benefit everyone," Grogan said.

SPLOST V was approved in 2007 and continues through May 2015. SPLOST VI collections would begin in June 2015.

Initial projections placed revenue at about $91 million over the six-year life of the tax, though actual collections have been much lower, at about $31.8 million to date.

Commission Chair Mike Berg noted the SPLOST VI referendum differs from the previous in that it is "pay as you go," rather than a pre-funding mechanism.

"This gives us a general idea from both outside entities, as well as inside, as to what's really needed for the future of the county," he said.

Berg said the city and county must reach an agreement by June 19 in order to ratify the specific language for the referendum that will go before voters on Nov. 4.

Today's meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex.

 

 

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