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Commissioners pull plug on T-SPLOST vote in 2018

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. – Less than a month after giving County Manager Lloyd Kerr the go-ahead to set up meetings with the county’s cities to begin the process for putting a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or T-SPLOST, on November’s general election ballot, commissioners decided Tuesday night by consensus to put the measure on hold for this year.

The move came after Kerr suggested the referendum be delayed until next year.

“Recently, there has been some concern about the TSPLOST,” he said. “Originally, we wanted to move ahead with seeing about putting the T-SPLOST on the November ballot. That schedule has come into question and so it’s thought that it may be better that we delay that until May of next year so that we have time to adequately confirm what the projects are as well as so we don’t interfere with other initiatives such as the Board of Education and so forth.”

A vote on an Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax or eSPOLST referendum is on next Tuesday’s primary ballot.

Kerr had met with representatives from the county’s cities in late April to begin discussions on the intergovernmental agreement defining how proceeds from the new tax would have been divided.

Commissioners decided by a 4-1 consensus to put off pursuing the referendum until 2019. Several expressed a desire to explore other transportation funding opportunities.

District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards opposed the delay saying having the measure on the general election ballot would give the greatest number of county residents the chance to weigh in on the issue.

“If we’re going to have a T-SPLOST referendum I would urge that we put it on the November ballot. The turnout is going to be much larger in November. We would get a truer account of what this county really wants as opposed to a smaller subsection of voters,” he said.

Had commissioners decided to move forward with the referendum, it would have been the county’s third SPLOST vote in 20 months, including this year’s eSPLOST and last year’s March SPLOST vote. The county’s 2017 SPLOST was overwhelmingly approved by voters.