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SPLOST approval could generate $9.6 million
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If voters approve a proposed extension of the 1-cent sales tax next month, the measure could generate as much as $9.6 million for projects within downtown Dawsonville.

"The city ... could look so much different and could be so much improved from where it is now, from [the extension]," said Councilwoman Angie Smith. "The overarching theme seems to be that we need improvements and we need things in the city limits that have almost been neglected for quite a while, so [the tax] is just one way for us to get the additional funds to do that."

Projections show the tax extension could generate an estimated $45.3 million over six years to be split at a ratio of 85 percent to Dawson County and 15 percent for Dawsonville projects.

"For the past few years, it's been a concerted effort on the city council's part, along with the downtown development authority, to improve the city, to renovate, to push for a city identity, a pride in the city, push the historic district," Smith said.

"We have a list of projects that would help further that and bring people into the city. We have subdivisions that need houses built. We need families to fill those houses. We need businesses to fill vacant office spaces and things like that."

Among the city's proposed projects for the extension of the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, are a park on Main Street, a farmers market and water and sewer improvements.

The money could also fund downtown revitalization efforts, while officials have indicated roads are the top priority for the county's share of sales tax collections.

Without the extension, Smith said it could be many years before the city would be able to afford some of these efforts.

"We'd have to look for other ways of funding, like utilizing the downtown development authority to bring in grants or monies for other things," she said. "There are other ways to do it, but not as many, and not as many as quickly. In one fell swoop, six years could net $9.6 million for the city.

"That's an incredible amount of money, over and above what our budget calls for and it just makes it a lot easier."

The current sales tax program, known as SPLOST V, was approved by voters in 2007. It started in 2009 and runs through May. If the Nov. 4 referendum passes, SPLOST VI would begin in June.

Advance voting continues from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Oct. 31 at the board of elections office, 96 Academy Ave. near downtown Dawsonville. Voters may also cast their ballots from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Oct. 25, a Saturday.