NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. - The Newton County Board of Commissioners took a consensus Tuesday evening to move forward with adding a single-county T-SPLOST (transportation special purpose local option sales tax) to the November ballot.
“A single-county T-SPLOST is a sales tax, it is not a fee and the projects it can be used for have to be transportation purposes only,” County Attorney Megan Martin said.
Martin presented the board with information from ACCG and a timeline for getting the tax added to the November ballot. She said if the BOC wants a T-SPLOST in November, “time’s a wasting,” and she needs to know by April 1 to start the process.
Newton County Chairman Marcello Banes raised the concern of interfering with the Newton County School System’s E-SPLOST (education special purpose local option sales tax) vote which is on the May 22 ballot.
Martin assured Banes that the two tax votes would take place in different elections.
“I don’t think us putting it in November 6 would derail the school system,” Commissioner Lanier Sims said. “Each government entity has to stand on its own. I mean, I don’t think their sitting at their board meetings looking at us when we’re getting ready to do our SPLOST and vice versa. I think doing it November 6 is going to get us more turn out and a better chance to get this passed.”
A single-county T-SPLOST can be levied up to five years at a fractional rate up to 1 percent if there is an intergovernmental agreement with the qualified cities in the county. If there is no IGA in place, the tax cannot exceed 0.75 percent.
Commissioner Nancy Schulz emphasized that she wanted to utilize every revenue source available.
“What I don’t want to do is leave a source of revenue on the table that we do not exercise,” she said.
Commissioner Stan Edwards said he was only in-favor of the T-SPLOST if it would help eliminate some of the dirt roads in his district.
Commissioner Ronnie Cowan said it was just the county’s obligation to get it on the ballot. It is up to the voters to make the decision from there.
The BOC gave Martin the go-ahead to start the process of getting it added to the ballot and other steps will be taken before November to isolate what projects would be listed as the beneficiaries of the tax.