The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners voted July 19 to issue a call for a special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) referendum to be placed on the Nov. 8 elections ballot. The referendum calls for the renewal of the one-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects and other improvements in the county. If passed, the new program will take effect when the current SPLOST expires on March 31, 2017.
The county and all 16 Gwinnett cities have agreed to share the proceeds from the SPLOST as they have since 2001. The new program could raise an estimated $950 million over six years to be used for transportation improvements along with public safety, parks and recreation, library relocations and renovations, civic center expansion, senior service facilities and city administrative, parking and cultural facilities plus city water and sewer capital improvements.
Gwinnett County will receive 78.76 percent of the proceeds and the cities will receive 21.24 percent. The county has determined that 65 percent of its share, or an estimated $486 million, will be dedicated to transportation projects such as roads, streets, bridges and sidewalks, including $30.8 million for joint city/county transportation projects. The county has also agreed to set aside approximately $3.2 million for joint parks and recreation improvements.
“Transportation improvements continue to be our biggest need and local government leaders agreed that everyone who uses our roads should help pay the cost of improvements,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash said. “And as we have done in the past, the County will form another citizens committee soon to review and prioritize prospective transportation project categories.”
“Gwinnett County is also committed to addressing our growing senior population and will continue funding for senior centers and equipment in the proposed SPLOST program,” added Nash.
Gwinnett voters have approved a nearly continuous series of SPLOST programs since 1985 that have raised more than $2.9 billion, allowing the County to minimize long-term debt and save more than $1 billion in financing costs compared to issuing bonds.
County officials plan to hold public input meetings on the transportation projects.
Residents who are interested in participating on the Citizens Project Selection Committee are invited to attend an organizational meeting on Aug. 15, 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville.
“The purpose of the meeting is to select members and alternates to represent 11 major interest groups on the committee,” said Gwinnett Transportation Director Alan Chapman. Four members will represent homeowners (one from each commission district) and one representative each will represent business leaders, environmental stakeholders, schools, civic organizations/leaders, the freight and manufacturing industry, Gwinnett County’s seniors and young professionals.
“The committee’s immediate role will be to review and prioritize prospective project categories and funding levels. In addition, members will help maintain an open line of communication between county government and the public and help maximize the benefits of the sales tax proceeds,” said Chapman.
Hundreds of letters are being sent out inviting residents to attend the meeting and help spread the word. The letters are just one part of the plan to receive input, according to Board Chairman Charlotte Nash.
“We need representation from all segments of the county, so we’re sending emails, talking to the media and sharing information through all the county’s communications channels, including the website,” said Nash.
For more information about the upcoming meeting, visit www.gwinnettSPLOST.com or call the Gwinnett Department of Transportation at 770-822-7400. Additional information about SPLOST can be found online at www.gwinnettSPLOST.com.