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County, city reach SPLOST agreement

POSTED: July 9, 2014 4:00 a.m.

County and city officials have reached an agreement on how funds will be split if the upcoming 1-cent sales tax extension is approved by voters in November.

With an estimated $45.3 million over six years, the revenue would be distributed at a ratio of 85 percent to the county and 15 percent for city projects.

The two governments had been in talks for several weeks over how best to allocate the tax money.

Representatives from both said they are pleased with the compromise.

"Coming together ... ensures that the projects we have identified through community input will soon be able to become a reality," said Dawsonville City Councilman Chris Gaines.

Mike Berg, chairman of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners, called the collaboration a "credit to the organizations" to try to work through differences for the benefit of all the citizens.

"The city and county have come to an agreement, which is what you always want to try to achieve," he said.

Among the city's proposed projects are plans for a park on Main Street, a farmers market, water and sewer improvements and funding for downtown revitalization.

Gaines hailed the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, as "a great way for our county and city to fund important projects."

"We are in the unique situation that the majority of funding comes from people outside our community that spend money here, yet our citizens and businesses receive the benefit of the projects," he said.

County officials have indicated roads are the top priority for the county's share of sales tax collections, amounting to an estimated 63 to 72 percent of the public works projects.

The county's list also includes park improvements and to buy public safety vehicles such as patrol cars and an ambulance. Initially, there were hopes for a community center and off-site file storage, but those projects were re-evaluated in the negotiation process.

None of the projects would be prefunded, but rather purchased on a "pay-as-you-go" basis.

The current sales tax program, known as SPLOST V, was approved by voters in 2007. It started in 2009 and runs through May 2015.

The SPLOST VI is set to go before voters on Nov. 4.

If passed, the tax extension would begin in June 2015.




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