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Newton County SPLOST renewal referendum going before voters
Newton County Historic Courthouse
The Historic Courthouse in Covington where the Newton County Board of Commissioners meets. - photo by File Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County elections officials have formally called a referendum on continuing a 1% sales tax used for funding construction of a variety of projects countywide.

The Newton County Board of Elections and Registration voted to call the election and will include it on the ballot Newton Countians will see when they vote in the Nov. 8 General Election.

Voters will be asked whether a 1% special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) should continue to be imposed in Newton County and its cities through 2029 to fund a number of capital outlay projects for the county government and six city governments within Newton.

Continuation of the SPLOST is expected to generate $108 million over its six-year life and fund paving and widening of roads. The county will receive 78% and the six cities 22% under an intergovernmental agreement the governments recently approved.

More than a third of an estimated $84 million the county government will receive — and much of the remaining $24 million the cities will share — is planned for road improvements and resurfacing. 

The county has planned almost $21 million for roadwork in unincorporated Newton — including a widening of Brown Bridge Road — and $8 million for resurfacing roads countywide.

Officials have said the road paving and construction funds could be used to seek even larger state and federal grants that require local matching funds.

Others included:

• $12 million for construction of four new recreation facilities, including a new "community waterpark," an enrichment center for the county Senior Services department, and parks in both southwest Newton and commission District 5, which covers northeast Newton.

• $8 million for renovations to the historic R.L. Cousins High School building on Geiger Street;

• $4.65 million for county Fire Services improvements; 

• $4.5 million for improvements at existing parks and walking trails countywide; 

• $1.07 million for expansion of the Animal Services facility on Lower River Road; 

• $900,000 for the library system.

SPLOST has been used for construction and renovation of numerous county and city projects since the 1980s, including parks, renovation of the Historic Courthouse and construction of the county’s Administration Building and the Judge Horace Johnson Jr. Judicial Building.

The Nov. 8 General Election will include such high-profile races as the one between Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.

The last day to register to vote in the election will be Oct. 11.