Henry County board members opted on Tuesday, September 15, to plan for a transportation SPLOST referendum in November 2021. The county originally tried to schedule the referendum this year, but were unable to meet ballot deadlines.
The county may ask voters for up to a one percent increase of the local sales tax rate, or one penny on the dollar. This is conditional on the county entering into an intergovernmental agreement with the four cities. Without an IGA, the county is limited to asking for a 0.75 percent increase in local sales tax.
The current sales tax rate is seven percent. This includes four percent in state sales tax, one percent for local operations sales tax (LOST) that offsets property taxes, one percent for education SPLOST for capital projects in the school system, and one percent for regular SPLOST for capital projects by the board of commissioners.
If approved, collections from a transportation SPLOST may be spent on a variety of transportation expenses. Some examples include:
- preliminary engineering, right of way acquisition, and / or construction for major road projects, like new roads or widening projects,
- intersection improvements, like the installation of traffic signals or roundabouts,
- bridge repairs and replacements,
- roadway maintenance and resurfacing, and
- public transit expansion and operating expenses.
A draft project list presented by county staff in June focused on major transportation projects, intersection improvements, and road resurfacing. Revisions to the list are expected before voters have an opportunity to weigh-in at the ballot box.
The county’s newly-created transportation advisory group is expected to begin meeting in October. Moving Henry Forward will promote opportunities for public input should they arise.
Board interested in shared ballot with education SPLOST
Members of the board of commissioners expressed interest in collaborating with the Henry County Board of Education to hold two SPLOST referendums on the same ballot. The Henry County education SPLOST program was last renewed in March 2016 and is up for renewal in 2021.
Discussions by the school board about education SPLOST have been delayed because of COVID-19. According to County Manager Cheri Hobson-Matthews, the school system is evaluating the impact of Coronavirus on the local economy before committing to a date for their referendum.
The possibility of two SPLOST referendums on the same ballot raises the question would the outcome be affected by two tax questions being asked simultaneous. Moving Henry Forward wants to hear your impression about the topic through the survey question below.