The City of Carrollton may get a new fire station with the upcoming 2021 SPLOST funds — if county residents approve the renewal of the one-cent sales tax in March.
An agreement to work with the county commission and Carroll’s other municipalities on the upcoming 2021 Special Local Option Sales Tax was unanimously approved on Thursday by the Carrollton City Council.
Carroll residents will determine on March 16, 2021, whether the county and her cities can continue to collect sales taxes to help fund capital projects. Local governments across Georgia rely on SPLOST revenues to make improvements that otherwise would be directly paid for by taxpayers.
Voters were supposed to have already decided the issue earlier this month, but government officials decided to postpone the referendum until the spring. Officials wanted to avoid a crowded presidential election ballot and allow enough time to inform residents about each government’s planned SPLOST projects.
The current, six-year SPLOST expires at the end of March, and if county voters do not approve the referendum that month, a year must pass before the item can be put on another ballot.
City Manager Tim Grizzard said the city expects to collect $26 million over the term of the sales tax.
He added that city officials created a list of generic projects the city hopes to accomplish with SPLOST funds. However, he said the list does not have specific projects.
“We worked with the (city’s) Bond Council to word it in a way where it gave enough specifics that people feel comfortable about where their money is going, but not so specific that it ties our hands,” he told council members on Thursday. “For instance, it says sidewalk extensions and repairs. If we said sidewalk extension on College Street, we would have to do that one. We didn’t get that specific.”
He said the city has recently used SPLOST funds to construct a new GreenBelt spur on the city’s Tanner Medical Center campus; to renovate the Lakeshore Center facility and build a walking trail on Robert Hendrix Drive in west Carrollton.
There are several new projects city officials are hoping to complete, ranging from building new sports fields and facilities to replacing Fire Station 23 and purchasing new fire engines.
“I want people to know specifically that we are going to replace the fire station, and we are going to buy new fire department equipment, and we are going to do the water park renovation on Alabama Street,” Carrollton Mayor Betty Cason said. “I want people to know our big-ticket items and how much is needed for that fire station replacement.”
Grizzard added there are specific laws about how the city is going to advertise the upcoming referendum.
For example, city officials cannot solicit votes from residents, but a private group could encourage people to vote for a renewal, he said. City leaders can only inform residents about the upcoming referendum.
The SPLOST has been around in Carroll County since 1987, and the sixth and current iteration of the sales tax began in 2015, according to the state’s Department of Revenue.
Earlier this year, the county commission and Carroll’s mayors decided to postpone the upcoming SPLOST vote from Nov. 3 to March 16 to allow officials more time to inform the public about the one-cent sales tax.
Cason suggested postponing the referendum to give government leaders more time to discuss their projects, inform residents of the renewal and avoid a crowded ballot on Election Day.