Friday May 27th, 2016 6:03PM

Habersham leaders react to failure of SPLOST extension

By Rob Moore Reporter
CLARKESVILLE - What proponents said would have been a major shot in the arm for economic development and job creation in Habersham County failed at the hand of voters Tuesday.

An extension of the county's current 1-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was defeated by about a 9-percent margin.

Less than 15 percent of the county's 18,649 registered voters (2,796) cast ballots in the referendum.

"It's not what we were hoping for, but it's not necessarily unexpected," Commission Chairman Chad Henderson said of the defeat. "There was an organized opposition to the SPLOST and it's understandable. When that kind of thing happens, you expect it to be close. I expected it to be a little closer than it was."

A major aspect of the proposed SPLOST, which would have begun when the county's current 1-cent sales tax expires early next year, was projects for economic development and job creation, including work to make the county's industrial park near Baldwin more marketable.

"We've got a group of commissioners that's committed to economic development, that's committed to trying to make sure that we make sure we do the best job we can for the people of this county, and to do what we can do to create jobs," Henderson said.

Henderson said commissioners would begin talking by telephone Wednesday to determine how to move forward.

"We'll utilize all the resources we have at our disposal," Henderson said. "We'll be discussing how to market the fact that we will be a 6-percent county. We'll do the best job that we can do with what we've got, as we always do. And we'll try our dead-level best to do what the county has asked us to do."

Commissioner Andrea Harper agreed the commission will work through the referendum's defeat.

"We're going to have to regroup and come together and figure out how we're going to pay for the things that SPLOST would have paid for," Harper said. "We can do it. It is a challenge, but that's what we're elected to do and we'll come together and we'll figure it out."

Harper said she's not sure what commissioners will look at funding first, but expected it to be roads and bridges.

"The only thing on SPLOST for the county commission was just roads and bridges, and then a couple of ambulances," Henderson said. "The ambulances will be a little easier to deal with probably in the long run, just because we can figure out a way to capitalize those things. Roads and bridges are going to be tough."

Henderson said the commission with sit down with the county manager and the county engineer to put a plan in place to ensure the county's roads are maintained, and to replace or repair the bridges identified by the department of transportation.

"I don't really have an answer yet exactly how to go," Henderson said. "I've already looked at some preliminary numbers in anticipation that this could happen. We'll survive - we don't have a choice."

Baldwin Mayor Jerry Neace, who was re-elected Tuesday night, also weighed in on the failure of SPLOST.

"SPLOST 6 was a critical referendum for the cities and the county," Neace said. "This is the first time that the cities and county really came together on a project list. It's going to hurt the cities tremendously, because some of our capital projects come from SPLOST. For the City of Baldwin, that's a lot of money and it hurt - especially when it was a big push for economic development so we could compete with Hall County, Gwinnett County and Jackson County. We needed this to get that moving forward."

Still, Neace is not dissuaded by the defeat of SPLOST.

"The county and the cities will get together and figure this out and move forward and make a better Habersham tomorrow," Neace said.
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 2 years ago )
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 2 years ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 2 years ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Medicaid growth creates gap of 5M without coverage; 409K in Ga.
About 5 million people will be without health care next year that they would have gotten simply if they lived somewhere else in America.
7:30AM ( 2 years ago )
Vandals spray graffiti against Kerry in West Bank
Suspected Jewish vandals set fire to three vehicles in a West Bank village early on Tuesday and sprayed threatening graffiti referring to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of his expected visit to the region, police said.
7:28AM ( 2 years ago )
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Motorcyclist, driver injured in two-vehicle crash on Ga. 365
Those trying to get an early start on their holiday travel via Ga. 365 in Stephens County likely faced frustration Friday afternoon as a portion of the highway was shut down due to a crash.
5:25PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Banks/Madison standoff suspect faces robbery, assault, hijacking charges
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has released more details of Monday night's double shooting in Banks County and subsequent hours-long standoff in Madison County.
4:01PM ( 2 hours ago )
Corps among agencies stressing safety on Lanier
‚ÄčLarge crowds at parks and heavy boat traffic are just two of the predictions the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Lake Lanier has made for the long holiday weekend.
3:59PM ( 2 hours ago )
Officials highlight importance of safe driving, safe boating
As the unofficial start of summer arrives, state, federal and local officials are stressing the importance of safe driving and safe boating operation.
3:37PM ( 2 hours ago )
Two-county pursuit/crash ends in arrest of N.C. men
A chase through Franklin and Banks County ended in the arrests of two North Carolina men early Friday.
1:40PM ( 4 hours ago )