Dawson County BOC, Dawsonville City Council met to discuss proposed TSPLOST referendum.
By Denise Ray
Members of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners and Dawsonville City Council met to discuss a proposed TSPLOST referendum Jan. 14 at the Dawsonville City Hall. The joint meeting took place at Dawsonville City Hall to enter an intergovernmental agreement (IGA)on the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST).
“I think all of us understand the importance of infrastructure, especially our roads and bridges and how important they are, and they’re also one of the most expensive things the cities and counties have to deal with and trying to maintain,” Billy Thurmond, Dawson County Commission Chairman said. “This would give both the city and the county an opportunity to have a specific revenue source that would allow us to be able to take care of those issues.”
The two governing entities unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement regarding TSPLOST, which will be on the May 19 primary ballot.
The IGA outlines the terms of the proposed TSPLOST. If approved by votes in May, it would collect $45 million over a five-year span. Dawson County would receive 91 percent of the revenue and the remaining nine would go Dawsonville.
According to the agreement, the county would receive funds from the Georgia Department of Revenue and disperse funds to the city. It also stipulates that the city will receive some funds upfront in order to jumpstart some projects while the county finished up its SPLOST projects.
“There are a lot of things that the city’s got that need to be repaired,” Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason said.
“The city adopted a lot of roads during the economic downturn that are probably substandard compared to what we would have adopted now. The roads are in pretty bad shape,” Eason said.
Eason expressed his thanks to the county for coming together with the city and addressing some of the problems in the city including the Allen Street intersection near City Hall and the intersections of Hwy. 9 and Perimeter north and south which are “extremely heavy with school traffic.”
Should TSPLOST pass in May, it would become effective in October 2020 and would run for five years or until collections reach the $45 million cap. The city of Dawsonville would collect $4.05 million and the county’s share would be $40.95.
Both the city and the county will put up funds for three intersections to improve traffic flow and safety at Hwy. 53 and Allen Street and both the north and southbound intersections of Hwy. 9 and Perimeter road, which are heavily trafficked roads for city, county and school employees.
Public Works Director David McKee presented a list of the county’s road projects.
“By no means is this a ‘fix all transportation solution’, but this is a step in the right direction if we were able to get these projects done,” McKee said.
Along with improvements on the Hwy. 9 and Perimeter Road intersections and the Allen Street and Hwy. 52 intersections, the county plans to widen and rehabilitate Shoal Creek Road from the downtown city limit to Hwy. 136; rehabilitate roadways in the Chestatee subdivision to alleviate severe drainage problems; improve the Lumpkin Campground corridor, widen Elliott road, rehabilitate Cowart Road from Hwy. 53 to the county line; widen and rehabilitate Grizzle Road; rehabilitate Frank Bruce and Seed Tick Roads as well as Old Henry Grady Hwy.; bring Gold Mine Road and Hubbard Road up to paved roads standards; improve the Hwy. 53 and Dawson Forest Road intersection; rehabilitate Country Crossing subdivision road; and improve the existing asset road improvement programs.
The city of Dawsonville’s proposed road repairs were outlined by City Manager Bob Bolz and included repairs to Main Street from Hwy. 53 to Main Street Park, repairs to Maple Street, Pearl Chambers Court, Drive and Way, Richmond Drive, Jack Heard, Memory Lane and Stegal Place, repairs to streets inside the Stonewall and Rainhill subdivisions, repairs to Burt’s Crossing Drive, Winding Court and Ridgewater and repairs to the existing asset road improvement program.
“The TSPLOST, if approved by our citizens, will give us a dedicated revenue source to address the many road and bridge improvements needed in our county. The proposed project list follows our county transportation improvement plan,” Thurmond said.
Eighty percent of sales tax revenue comes from people who visit our county and purchase goods and services and then return home, Thurmond said.
“The projects that both the city and David (McKee) have mentioned are there whether we do it or not, so we still have to fund them with some form,” District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said. “There’s got to be some function to fund that whether the citizens want to go down this path or not.”
City Councilman Steve Tolson shared his thoughts about transparency regarding TSPLOST.
“All times wondering where our tax money is going, this is not one of those times. We don’t have to wonder. There’s a list. I think the cost is certainly worth the return and I just encourage folks at home to take that into consideration.”
District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett weighed in on the proposed tax.
“While I dislike taxes in general as much as anyone, unfortunately they are necessary,” Fausett said. “I believe most people would agree that our roads are in desperate need of attention. Our present sources of funding cannot keep up with the costs associated with making the needed repairs.”
TSPLOST is the solution, especially since 85% of the sales tax revenue comes from people who live outside of Dawson County, Fausett added.
District 4 Commissioner Julie Nix was not in attendance due to a family emergency.