GAINESVILLE - Gainesville City Council members got a reminder Tuesday afternoon to contact State Senator Butch Miller before the General Assembly adjourns Thursday about a measure that would alter the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
That reminder came from Council member Ruth Bruner and she said it's important to urge Miller to vote against the 'Fractional SPLOST'. Under the current law in referendums voters approve an extra penny on the dollar in sales tax to support building and road projects. The measure now up for a State Senate vote would allow counties to set the SPLOST for less than a penny.
"We just think this would open the door to a lot of gamesmanship between cities and counties all over the state trying to get projects on SPLOST," Bruner said. "It's worked so well, almost 80 percent of the SPLOST votes have passed in the state and we don't see any reason to change the penny tax for something less than a penny."
Bruner said she believes it would confuse the public when they've been used to paying a penny on the dollar. The SPLOST sunsets after five years and voters have the option of renewing it or not. Bruner said in Gainesville and Hall County SPLOST has spurred a lot of economic development and growth, citing the Frances Meadows Center and the downtown parking deck as examples.
"It's been better than raising property taxes," Bruner added. "It's been more popular with voters than governments having to raise property taxes. We've built a lot of things with SPLOST dollars that couldn't have been done any other way unless we raised property taxes."
Bruner said she's already talked to local legislative delegation members including Miller about the fractional SPLOST, calling on them personally on behalf of the city.
"It passed in the House; I talked to all our house members but unfortunately several of them voted for it", according to Bruner. "We're hoping that the Senate does not pass it because we think it really would be a detriment to projects getting done all over the state."