Officials urge voters to be educated on SPLOST

DeKalb County commissioners, city mayors and CEO Michael Thurmond announce a SPLOST vote.Voters could soon approve a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) in DeKalb County. With more than $380 million in funding over the next six years on the line if the referendum is approved in November, county officials are urging voters to be informed before heading to the voting booth.

On Oct. 18, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, members of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, and mayors from the 12 cities within DeKalb County announced early voting had begun on three referendums, including a referendum regarding SPLOST.

“We worked together since January to develop a countywide list,” Thurmond said. “We are convinced that our voters will go to the polls and cast an informed vote. This is a great day and we will continue to work together until Nov. 7.  A new day has dawned in DeKalb County.”

Early voting began Oct. 16 and will end Nov. 3. DeKalb County voters will decide on three ballot items. The items include, A new Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax (EHOST), which would replace an existing HOST by applying 100 percent of the revenue to reduce property taxes for homeowners, SPLOST which is an additional one-cent sales tax that would raise money to repave more than 318 miles of roads in the county and fund other infrastructure repairs and deciding whether to continuing freeze on property tax increases for existing homeowners for the six-year period of the SPLOST.

According to county officials, SPLOST will not pass unless voters approve EHOST as well.

Last year before a SPLOST option was put on a November referendum, DeKalb officials noticed the word “tolled” in the language of House Bill 596. If the bill was approved, a tax break for DeKalb homeowners would “be tolled” or otherwise would lose their tax break.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed two pieces of legislation pertaining to DeKalb County’s SPLOST. Senate Bill 143 amended the “tolled” language that sidetracked a SPLOST referendum in DeKalb County last year while Senate Bill 156 makes certain provisions on what the one-cent sales tax money can be used for.

“It took us some time to get it right, but it’s better late than never,” Thurmond said.

According to county officials, each city within DeKalb County will have a project list of capital improvements if SPLOST is approved by voters. Residents can go to the city’s official website to view project lists.

In DeKalb, $240 million of SPLOST funds will be spent on transportation while $84 million will be used for public safety.

“The collaboration and partnerships that made this possible happened because we sat at the table, listened to each other and looked at the vision,” DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson said. “This is about fixing our sidewalks and buildings with leaky roofs. All of us are committed to these projects and what we’re trying to do to move this county forward.

SPLOST is just the beginning.”

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