This week the Dawson County Board of Commissioners and Dawsonville City Council will hold a special called joint meeting to discuss Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and the possible projects that the SPLOST revenue will fund.
The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, in the Dawson County Government Center assembly room.
According to local officials, the two entities have several projects on the table for discussion, many of which will benefit residents of both the city and county.
Dawson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Billy Thurmond said the main purpose of the meeting will be to solidify projects and to determine how the total SPLOST funding will be split between the city and the county. Currently, 15 percent of the SPLOST money goes to the city, and the remaining 85 percent goes to the county.
“We want to come up with an IGA, or an Intergovernmental Agreement, between the city and the county, and in that IGA we will have the percentages as well as a list of projects,” Thurmond said. “Hopefully we’ll have both project lists at that meeting to discuss with the public as we work towards finalization of those project lists.”
As far as county SPLOST-funded projects go, Thurmond said projects could include public safety equipment and a new public health facility.
“On the county side, we’re looking at our fire trucks, ambulances and patrol cars, a new health department facility, some IT equipment, things such as that,” Thurmond said.
District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said that SPLOST funding can’t go to expenses such as salaries, so instead it’s funding goes to fixed assets. According to Gaines, the goal in meeting with the city is to approve the projects that benefit as many Dawson County residents as possible, both inside and outside of the city limits.
“The goal is to be the most efficient we can with the sales tax dollars that are being generated within our community in order to help use those dollars to meet the needs of our community in many different ways,” Gaines said. “Some of those are roads and construction, fire and EMS, sheriff’s department, parks — there’s a lot of different categories that we’ve identified as needing capital purchases which is what SPLOST dollars go for.”
Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason said that a big thing the city hopes to have SPLOST funding for is road construction and repaving.
“One thing in particular we’ve gotta do in the city is roads, we don’t have property tax and the county does have property tax that they can raise to pave roads which they have to do cause TSPLOST failed,” Eason said. “We have a lot of roads that are in really bad shape that have to be paved, and we need this money so we don’t have to have taxes to have nice roads.”
The other thing Eason hopes to put SPLOST funding towards is a variety of improvements at Main Street Park.
“We’ve got a good many things we still need to do in our park, we have to do some of the fine tuning to build the amphitheater, put in the pickle ball court, put in more areas for people to have entertainment like disc golf… to make the park a more useful park,” Eason said. “We’ve got a lot going; the city is a place where people are continuing to come to live, so we need to keep everybody comfortable.”
Eason said that while the current percentages are close to where the city would like it to be, they would like the city’s percentage to be a little bit higher than it is now.
“We’re working with the county beforehand, so we’ll meet to talk about some numbers and some percentages,” Eason said. “They’re projecting this to be a 60 million dollar SPLOST fund, and currently the city has about 15 percent which is pretty close to what we’d like to have; although we’d like to have a little more of course cause we don’t want to tax our citizens.”
Gaines said that these SPLOST funds are critical to helping both the city and the county provide for their residents and community members.
“SPLOST has been around for many years and is a critical component to funding the infrastructure needs of the community,” Gaines said. “The majority of those dollars are raised by people outside of our community, from people that come up and shop at the outlet malls or the people in North Forsyth that come north to spend their money instead of going south, so it’s a great benefit for our community and something that we need to continue in order to be able to provide the infrastructures needed to provide services to the community.”