The Dawsonville city council and the Dawson County board of commissioners came together Monday night in a joint meeting to discuss the terms and conditions of the proposed TSPLOST referendum.
County and city officials met at Dawsonville city hall on Jan. 14 to enter an intergovernmental agreement on the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST), a one penny sales tax that the local entities have discussed for the past several years.
“I think all of us understand the importance of our infrastructure, especially our roads and bridges and how important they are, and they’re also one of the most expensive things the cities and counties have to deal with and trying to maintain,” Dawson County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said. “This would give both the city and the county an opportunity to have a specified revenue source that would allow us to be able to take care of those issues.”
The city council and board of commissioners unanimously approved to enter an intergovernmental agreement regarding TSPLOST which will be on the May 19 primary ballot. District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix was not present for the meeting due to a family emergency.
The IGA outlines the terms of the proposed TSPLOST which, if approved by city and county residents in May, would seek to collect a cap of $45 million over a span of five years. The county would collect 91 percent of the revenue, with the city collecting nine percent. The agreement calls for the county to receive the funds from the Georgia Department of Revenue then pay over a certain percentage to the city. Per the IGA, the city will receive some of its money upfront in order to jumpstart some of its projects while the county finishes up its SPLOSTS projects.
“There are a lot of things that the city’s got that need to be repaired. It’s a good vehicle for us to reach out to many of our subdivisions… the city during our downturn in the economy adopted a lot of roads that are probably substandard to what we would have adopted now. They’re in pretty bad shape and we think this will be good,” Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason said. “We also want to thank the county for coming together with us and addressing some of our problems in the city jointly with the intersection here at Allen (Street) and the intersection at (Hwy.) 9 and Perimeter north and south which are extremely heavy with school traffic intersections, particularly (Hwy.) 9 South.”
If TSPLOST passes in May, it would become effective in October 2020 and would run for five years, or until collections reach the $45 million cap. The county would collect $40.95 million with the city of Dawsonville collecting $4.05 million.
The city and county will both put up funds for three intersections to improve safety and traffic flow at Hwy. 53 and Allen Street and the Hwy. 9 north and south intersections with Perimeter Road which are all heavily trafficked roads for county, city and school employees.
The county’s list of road projects was presented at the Jan. 14 meeting by Public Works Director David McKee.
“By no means is this a fix all transportation solution, but this is a step in the right direction if we were able to get these projects done,” McKee said.
Along with improvements on the Hwy. 9 north and south intersections with Perimeter Road and the Hwy. 53 and Allen Street intersection, the county plans to widen and rehabilitate Shoal Creek Road from the downtown city limit to Hwy. 136; rehabilitate roadways in the Chestatee subdivision to alleviate severe drainage problems; improve the Lumpkin Campground corridor, widen Elliott Road; rehabilitate Cowart Road from Hwy. 53 to the county line; widen and rehabilitate Grizzle Road; rehabilitate Frank Bruce and Seed Tick roads as well as old Henry Grady Hwy.; bring Gold Mine and Hubbard roads up to paved road standards; improve the Hwy. 53 and Dawson Forest Road intersection; rehabilitate Country Crossing subdivision’s roads; and improve the existing asset road improvement programs.
City Manager Bob Bolz outlined the city’s proposed road repairs which include repairs to Main Street from Hwy. 53 to Main Street Park, repairs to Maple Street, Pearl Chamber Drive, Court and Way, Richmond Drive, Jack Heard, Memory Lane and Stegal Place, repairs to streets inside the Stonewall and Rainhill subdivisions, repairs to Burt’s Crossing Drive, Winding Court and Ridgewater and repairs to the existing asset road improvement program.
“The projects that both the city and David (McKee) have mentioned are there whether we do it or not so we still have to fund that with some form,” District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said. “There’s got to be some function to fund that whether the citizens want to go down this path or not.”
City councilman Stephen Tolson added: “All times wondering where our tax money is going, this is not one of those times. We don’t have to wonder. There’s a list. I think the cost is certainly worth the return and I just encourage folks at home to take that into consideration.”