City elections aren’t the only thing on the ballot in November.
Voters across Bryan County will be asked whether they want to continue a penny sales tax that officials say will raise a maximum of $147 million over six years for projects in the county as well in Pembroke and Richmond Hill.
The amount expected to be collected in a new special local option sales tax is another sign of the county’s booming growth, with the sales tax possibly generating nearly triple the revenue projected in the current SPLOST, SPLOST VII.
It will have raised some $53.6 million when it expires in May 2024. By contrast, SPLOST VI, which expired in 2018, collected $31.9 million.
If the new SPLOST passes, it will help fund a long wish list over its lifetime, while also allowing local governments to incur debt to pay for the projects up front. State law mandates that SPLOST proceeds only go toward capital projects or to buy equipment such as vehicles or technology.
By contrast, the day to day operations of local government is funded with ad valorem taxes such as those paid by homeowners.
Under a split of revenue agreed on by the two cities and Bryan County, more than $83 million will go to county projects ranging from roads to vehicle and equipment purchases to water and sewer improvements and recreation projects.
Also listed are bridge improvements, bike paths and drainage and storm water improvements.
County revenue from a new SPLOST will also be used for paying off debt incurred by the county and the Development Authority of Bryan County in buying and improving various industrial development sites, and can be used as matching funds for grants to help pay for projects eligible for SPLOST.
Richmond Hill’s portion of the SPLOST revenue is projected at more than $51.4 million, if voters approve continuation of the penny tax. It will be used for a number of projects, including utility relocation underground.
Other projects listed by Richmond Hill include roads, streets, bridges, sidewalks and bike paths. The revenue can also be spent on cultural, recreational, historical and municipal facilities, including the City Center. It can also be used to buy “real and personal property,” as well as “equipment and rolling stock for the Richmond Hill Public Facilities Authority,” according to the SPLOST resolution.
Richmond Hill can use SPLOST revenue for water and sewer projects, improvements to the city’s storm water and drainage systems, and on public safety facilities and to buy equipment and vehicles. Improvements to city buildings, offices and facilities are also on the list.
Pembroke’s share of a new SPLOST amounts to more than $12.4 million and will go to help fund a number of projects, including improvements to the city’s water and sewer system as well as roads, bike paths, walking trails. Projects to improve drainage and storm water collection are also listed, as well as “rolling stock and capital equipment for all city departments,” and various other improvements. The funding can also be used for projects for the Downtown Development Authority.
All registered voters in Bryan County can vote in the SPLOST referendum. Residents have to be registered by Oct. 10 to vote in the Nov. 7 election. That can be accomplished at the Bryan County Elections Office in the Lanier Learning Center at 6024 U.S. 280, Pembroke in the front office.
You can also go online at mvp. sos. ga.gov.
Early voting begins Oct. 16.