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Wednesday July 1st, 2015 8:03AM

Hall Commissioners pick Lula sewer option

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
GAINESVILLE - Out of three options for Highway 365 corridor sewer development, Hall Commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday night on the Lula option. The motion came from Vice Chairman Jeff Stowe.

"I'd like to make a motion that we partner with Lula on the regional pump station and gravity sewer for that area," Stowe said.

Stowe's motion also included a continued effort to get the county permitted to provide sewer to the area; the county would design and install the sewer lines to Lula at a cost not to exceed $2.4-million. Stowe added that Lula presented the only option that met a 15 to 18 month time table for potential industry to locate.

On a suggestion from County Administrator Randy Knighton, last year's vote for the county to develop Highway 365 sewer was set aside. Commissioners also authorized applying for state and federal grant money to finance the project to save county SPLOST funding.

Billy Powell cast the no vote, claiming the Gainesville option was easier on county taxpayers.

"There's no cost to county taxpayers with the Gainesville option," Powell said. "Gainesville pays everything to get us up and going and their investment of over $6-million is paid back by the people who hook up to the sewer, once again at no cost to any tax payer in Hall County and no cost to the SPLOST."

FRIENDSHIP RESIDENTS OPPOSED

Commissioners heard that changing Friendship Road to Lanier Islands Parkway would be a development plus for south Hall County. They also heard from several Friendship Road residents including Teresa Owens opposed to the name change.

"We have a long history in our area and we just don't want to give it up", she said. "We have descendants of ancestors who still live on Friendship Road from those who came into this area in the 1820's and 30's."

Attorney for Chateau Elan Jim Cornwell said Chateau Elan was also opposed to it, along with the city of Braselton, because the change to Lanier Islands Parkway would unfairly impact them. Commissioners take a final vote February 28th on changing the road name from I-985 to where it runs into Old Winder Highway, including the new realignment, part of the road widening project.

NOT SO SURE ABOUT TAX CHANGE

Commission Chairman Dick Mecum said Georgia's new tax reform legislation affecting motor vehicle sales troubles him. Tax Commissioner Darla Eden and Chief Tax Appraiser Steve Watson presented the Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) to commissioners; it takes effect March 1st and motor vehicles are subject to a one-time 6.5 percent tax at the time of title and registration, replacing the seven percent sales tax. Mecum is not sure how it will affect county revenues.

"That is a concern," Mecum said. "We're not sure how much we're going to get back or if it's going to reduce the county taxes. The state's going to keep part of it. There are a lot of things we really don't have an answer to yet."

Mecum said out-of-state car owners and vehicle buyers doing private sales outside a dealership would pay more. Commissioner Eden said motor vehicle tax payers buying a new or used car would have 14 months to 'opt in' to the new tax.
Eden said the tax is for new cars and private car sales.

"Traditionally private sales have not been subject to sales tax, but going forward private sales will be subject to this onetime TAVT," Eden said. "When you come into our office we will ask for payment of six and a half percent of the value of your vehicle."

Eden said the major change is that TAVT applies to private or casual non-dealer sales.

"We haven't been used to a sales tax on those type transactions and now we will," Eden said. "You won't have to pay ad valorem tax annually but you will be required to pay the annual registration fee or tag fee."

Watson said his office is preparing for up to 100 TAVT appeals a month, mostly from people making casual sales, any sale where the purchase price is lower than the motor vehicle assessment manual value, and from newcomers to Georgia. For example, a new family to Georgia with four cars worth a total of $55,800 would owe $3,779, with 50 percent to be paid at initial registration and the balance paid within 12 months.

A TAVT online calculator is available on the county's website at www.hallcounty.org.
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