After months of negotiations and public hearings, the seventh installment of Dawson County’s SPLOST is now set to move forward to a special election later this year, after several votes held by local officials in late January.
At the Dawson County Board of Commissioner’s voting session held on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, and a specially called meeting of the Dawson County Board of Elections held the following day, board members unanimously voted to move forward with the six-year, $60 million special purpose local option sales tax, which will now be voted on by local residents in March.
The referendum voted on by council members specifies that two key projects will be completed first through SPLOST funding; construction of a new emergency operations 911 center, estimated to cost $5.5 million, and a new emergency communications system, which is estimated at $3 million.
After the completion of those projects, funding would be allocated to a variety of different projects in the county and city.
SPLOST VII project funding proposed by Dawson County includes the following.
- IT infrastructure upgrades - $1.5 million
- Administrative building renovations - $500,000
- Public safety vehicles and equipment - $8.55 million
- Sheriff’s office construction, upgrades, new vehicles and equipment - $3.4 million
- Public works vehicles, equipment and road projects - $18.9 million
- New fueling center and vehicles for county administration - $2.1 million
- Park improvements - $5.87 million
- Construction of a new public health building - $2.5 million
- Development authority industrial park expansion and site improvements - $2 million
At a meeting in early December 2020, the Dawsonville City Council voted to approve a similar resolution, approving their list of proposed SPLOST VII projects. City projects include the following.
- Road improvement projects - $3.7 million
- Land acquisition - $800,000
- Water and sewer projects - $4.76 million
- Public works vehicles and equipment - $200,000
- Parks and recreation upgrades - $1 million
- Downtown revitalization - $500,000
- City Hall building improvements - $900,000
Unlike SPLOST VI, which was approved by local voters in 2014, city and county officials were unable to reach a consensus needed for an intergovernmental agreement on SPLOST VII, disagreeing about how the $60 million would be divided between city and county projects.
Local officials say that without an IGA, the split of SPLOST will ultimately be based on the populations of the city and county, but there has not been a consensus yet on what that percentage split would be.
Speaking to the Dawson County News last week, Dawson County District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said that SPLOST VII will once again be up for discussion at the commissioners voting session on Thursday, Feb. 4, in an attempt to repackage some of the projects for efficiency.
Gaines said that the discussions should not drastically change anything that was agreed on at the last meeting, and though the SPLOST VII resolution will need approval again, they expect things to continue as previously planned.
With the approval of county and city officials, SPLOST VII will go to voters for a special called election scheduled for March 16, 2021.