SPLOST a go in DeKalb County

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DeKalb County officials said “it’s a new day” in DeKalb after voters approved a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum Nov. 7.

The 1-cent sales tax increase will provide DeKalb County approximately $636 million over six years from April 2018 to March 2024. There will be no increase in sales tax on unprepared food and medicine, according to county officials.

“A new day has dawned in DeKalb County,” said CEO Michael Thurmond.

According to the provisions of the legislation, SPLOST proceeds must be spent on transportation purposes such as roads, bridges public transit, airports, buses and seaports.

Thurmond stated an estimated 85 percent of the proceeds will be used for repaving some of DeKalb’s most deteriorated roads, which account for more than 318 miles of streets in the county.

As of press time, voters approved SPLOST with more than 69 percent of the vote.

DeKalb voters also approved 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.

As of press time, EHOST passed with more than 71 percent of the vote.

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

SPLOST will also fund repairs to fire stations and public safety initiatives throughout the county.

“SPLOST will bring nearly $50 million in capital investments into your fire department,” said Tom Burrell with the Local 1492 DeKalb Professional Firefighters.

Burrell said SPLOST will help provide fire departments with better infrastructure and make crucial improvements such as modern doors that will open in under 10 seconds.

“We are waiting nearly one full minute at some of our firehouses for the doors to open before we can respond to your emergencies,” Burrell said.

Approximately $84 million of SPLOST proceeds will be used for public safety.

The cities and the county signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) which will distribute the proceeds based on a formula for the population of each city. Cities with a larger population size will receive more funding.

Stonecrest will receive the largest amount of funding based the IGA formula ($47 million) with Pine Lake receiving the least ($687,704).

“We all sat at the table, we listened to each other, looked at the vision and made a decision that’s for DeKalb County and for the people of DeKalb County,” said Commissioner Larry Johnson. “This is all about relief. Relief from potholes and leaky roofs. All of us are committed to giving citizens results they can see.”

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