CLEVELAND, Ga. — White County commissioners approved a preliminary list of projects for a proposed 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) at Monday’s combined called meeting and work session.
The current SPLOST expires next year, and voters will decide in a referendum if they want to continue the one-cent tax through 2026.
Commissioners estimate the tax could generate $24,000,000 if approved. The preliminary list of proposed projects includes courthouse renovations and addition for an estimated $5 million, payment to the White County Building Authority for the new Yonah Preserve Park for $4,800,000 and resurfacing and improvements to county roads and equipment for the Roads and Bridges Department for $3,000,000.
Other projects include E-911 and Fire-EMS equipment, facilities and vehicles ($1.5 million), Administration equipment, facilities and vehicles ($1 million), Parks and Recreation equipment, facilities and vehicles ($1 million), and Sheriff’s Office equipment, facilities and vehicles ($500,000).
Counties can award cities a share of SPLOST proceeds based on each city’s population. The county is considering a 15 percent split for Cleveland and Helen. Both cities are requesting 23 percent.
The two cities each received 23 percent in previous SPLOSTs but both agreed to accept 13 percent in the current SPLOST in order to help the county pay for the new jail. About 50 percent of White County’s overall revenue is tourist related, much of which is generated by Helen’s 2.5 million visitors each year..
City managers and County Manager Michael Melton have agreed to meet Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to discuss the proposed SPLOST.
Cleveland Mayor Shan Ash asked commissioners to “look at the city as an investment in White County.”
He said the city is looking at a state-mandated lowering of the limit of water than can be discharged back into Lake Lanier. “Our biggest expense is going to be the sewer improvement that we know is coming,” he said. “We’re having to look at a more conventional system to get the limits they are going to require. We’ve got a lot of new business coming in. The city has a lot of potential to be a good driver for these (SPLOST) funds. I would just ask that you guys look at the city as an investment in White County.”
Ash noted that if the commissioners approve the 23 percent share as requested, the city’s proceeds would be about $5.5 million.
Helen City Councilman Jeff Ash said half of Helen’s SPLOST request is for wastewater treatment. “We need a new lift station and those things aren’t cheap. We have 93 million gallons of sewage that has to be lifted and put in that pond (for treatment).”
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