TSPLOST means possibility of lower millage rates, officials say

Published 7:30 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Decreasing the county’s millage rate is a major goal for Decatur County.

Fortunately for its commissioners, an opportunity to do just that could come from passing TSPLOST.

The cost of transportation projects currently comes out of the county’s general fund. If TSPLOST (Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax) is voted into effect this November, an additional 1 percent tax will be added to all sales in Decatur County, with the exception of vehicle purchases. That money can be used for transportation projects in Decatur County.

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With the money used to pave and maintain roads no longer tied up with those projects, commissioners will have the opportunity to help citizens recoup some of the costs through a millage rate reduction.

“We feel like the taxpayers have a burden on them,” said Pete Stephens, chairman of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners. “Anything we can do to relieve some of that burden would help not just individual property owners, but the economy.”

Stephens believed the money saved by citizens through a lower millage rate would be invested back into the community through new businesses.

“I would almost guarantee a half mil decrease,” Stephens said, and added he hoped it could even be decreased so far as a full mil.

The beauty of the TSPLOST tax is that it’s spread to everyone who makes a purchase in Decatur County, whether they are a resident or not, as opposed to the residents who just own property.

The amount of tax revenue generated from TSPLOST is estimated at $4 million a year on a six-year cycle.

“I think the board has very much a desire to see the millage rate reduced,” said Decatur County Administrator Alan Thomas. “So any funding that would insulate the general fund from doing transportation needs (would be good).”

Thomas confirmed that the Board of Commissioners have a strong desire to take this opportunity to stabilize the millage rate, and ideally lower it.

Residents will have a chance to speak with county officials directly next Monday, Aug. 21. The Decatur County Commissioner and City Council will be hosting the Civics 101 club at the Gilbert H. Gragg Library at 6 p.m. to answer any and all questions about TSPLOST.

Billy Ward, director of Civics 101, said this will be a general explanation of TSPLOST. They intend to explain the meaning and purpose behind the tax and why it is important to vote for it. The meeting will not discuss anything that has not already been discussed, but will be open to questions from the public. The meeting will last until 7:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome to attend.