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Dawson County voters reject local TSPLOST question
Election 2
On Tuesday, June 9, Dawson County Voters got the chance to use new state of the art election machines to cast ballots in the Georgia primary election. - photo by Jacob Smith

On Tuesday Night, Dawson County Voters rejected the potential Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) that would have generated $45 million over five years to fund new transportation projects and improvements throughout the county. 

With all Dawson County Polls reporting and the majority of absentee ballots counted, these are the preliminary final results. 

Yes: 43.81 percent (3,467)

No:  56.18 percent (4,445)

What it was: Proposed by county staff in February 2020, the 2020 TSPLOST would have increased Dawson County’s total sales tax by 1 percent, bringing the total to 8 percent, collecting $40.95 million for the county and $4.05 million for the City of Dawsonville over a five year period. 

County officials proposed dozens of different projects that could potentially be funded by TSPLOST, including widening and rehab of Shoal Creek Road, replacement of the Shoal Creek Road Bridge, improvements to the Lumpkin Campground Road Corridor, improvements to several areas on Hwy. 53, and an “Existing Asset Road Improvement Program.”    

How officials reacted: In a statement to the Dawson County News following the vote, Dawson County Commission Chair Billy Thurmond said that the proposal’s failure was unfortunate and that now the county will need to look at alternative revenue sources to accomplish the most badly needed of the proposed TSPLOST projects. 

Thurmond said that those funding sources will not come from an increase in property taxes, if possible, but some projects may now need to be funded through the county’s SPLOST VII or impact fees. 

Even with those alternative funding sources, Thurmond said that the timeline for many of the projects will likely be pushed back or delayed. 

When asked why the measure failed, Thurmond said that it was probably a combination of the stigma against taxes and the recent downturn in the local economy due to COVID-19. 

“I don’t want taxes more than anyone else, but in our case (TSPLOST and SPLOST) is a fairness tax, because about 80 percent of it comes from outside the county,” Thurmond said.  

What’s next: Thurmond said that although this TSPLOST question was rejected by voters, the county will certainly consider it again in the future. 

“We’ll take a look at it in the future,” he said. “Then we can bring it back before voters and let them decide again.” 

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