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Pennies for Progress

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Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2018 12:00 am

It’s complicated. It’s boring. When said out loud, it sounds like a rain boot hitting a puddle.

But SPLOST, or Special Local Option Sales Tax, is a key part of how Walton County operates.

It’s also on the ballot next month, for a straight up or down vote. Everyone who lives here gets to decide if they want it or they don’t. But before you make your decision, here is everything you need to know about SPLOST.

1. SPLOST is a renewable sales tax.

Every five years, voters decide if they want to levy a one percent sales tax, or one penny for every dollar spent, on everything for sale in Walton County, from chips at the gas station to trucks at Loganville Ford. If SPLOST is approved, then all those pennies go into a big pool of money.

2. SPLOST is split.

That pool of money is then divided up between all the governments in Walton County, big and small, according to population. Projections suggest this SPLOST, if approved, will bring in around $60 million. Since about two-thirds of the county’s population lives in the unincorporated county, the Walton County government will get around $41 million.

The rest goes to the cities. Monroe will get $8.7 million. Loganville will get $5.8 million. Good Hope will get $189,000. And so on.

3. SPLOST is used for capital improvement projects.

Governments cannot use SPLOST money for anything they want. They must use it for “capital improvement projects” which is a fancy phrase meaning government projects you can see.

For example, a new sidewalk or park could be paid for by SPLOST. A police officer’s salary or air conditioning bill at Monroe City Hall could not.

In the past, SPLOST has been used to build Felker Park in Monroe, the county government building on Hammond Drive, a sewer system in Walnut Grove, sidewalks in Good Hope, wastewater treatment upgrades in Loganville and much more.

4. SPLOST uses must be decided before it is voted on.

Not only can governments only use SPLOST for certain things, they must decide what they will use it on before voters decide to approve or deny it. The list for the upcoming SPLOST was released to the public this summer.

Given the area’s rapid growth and struggles with traffic, all the cities and the county agreed to make transportation projects first priority. A big chunk of the money will go toward that. The governments were free to use the rest as they pleased.

 Monroe has decided to work on parks. Social Circle wants to upgrade its sewer system. Walton County wants to build a new fire station. See the chart on C6 for more details.

5. We have had SPLOST before.

The first SPLOST vote happened in 2001, where 74 percent of voters approved the measure. It passed resoundingly in 2007 and 2013 as well. On the ballot, the SPLOST question will appear as shown on page C6. It’s up to you to say yes or no.

Here's how the SPLOST question will be posed on the ballot:

Shall a special one percent sales and use tax be imposed in the special district consisting of Walton County for a period of time not to exceed 24 calendar quarters and for the raising of an estimated amount of $60,000,000 for the purpose of funding the following projects:

 (i) for the City of Monroe, (A) transportation, drainage and sidewalks projects, and (B) parks improvements;

(ii) for the City of Loganville, (A) transportation projects, (B) public safety projects, and (C) parks and recreation projects;

(iii) for the City of Social Circle, (A) transportation projects, (B) water and sewer infrastructure projects, (C) public safety projects, (D) parks and recreation projects, and (E) building upgrades and improvements;

(iv) for the City of Good Hope, (A) transportation and facility paving projects;

(v) for the City of Walnut Grove, (A) transportation and traffic safety projects, and (B) sewer system improvements;

(vi) for the City of Jersey, (A) transportation projects, and (B) water system improvements;

(vii) for the City of Between, (A) transportation projects, and (B) building upgrades and improvements;

(viii) for the County, (A) 911 radio communication project, (B) transportation projects, (C) parks and recreation projects, (D) construction of one new fire station and fire station improvements, (E) building projects, (F) water and sewer system improvements, and (G) vehicle and major equipment acquisition?



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