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Rotary hears TSPLOST presentation

In a show of cooperation, Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds and Decatur County Commission Chair  Pete Stephens made a joint presentation in support of T-SPLOST at Tuesday’s Rotary Club meeting.

Reynolds outlined the facts of T-SPLOST, explaining how it is a special purpose local option sales tax to be used for transportation needs only. Although it is a county-led initiative, the two entities will share in the proceeds, as will the other county municipalities.

Currently the sales tax rate in Decatur County is 7 percent, of which 4 percent goes to the State. The remaining 3 percent is divided, with 1 percent going to Decatur County and the Hospital Authority; 1 percent to Decatur county municipalities and 1 percent, or the E-SPLOST goes to the Board of Education.

The T-SPLOST is a single, county-wide issue on the ballot for election November 7. If it passes, it will be a five-year tax on consumer sales.  It will be collected from April, 2018 to March 31, 2023, and at that time it could be reduced or renegotiated.

It is estimated by a Georgia Power marketing study that 31 percent of consumer sales are made by non-residents, those who do not live in Decatur County.

Stevens pointed out that Decatur County is a shopping hub for many surrounding areas and indicated the sales tax rate in Tallahassee is 7.5, while in Dothan, Ala. it is 9 percent.

An expected benefit is that it will free up some property tax issues with the City, and keep millage rates from rising. It will help solve some budget shortfalls in the County.

It is projected to produce $24,000,000. The distribution would be: 61.61 percent to Decatur County, 35 percent to City of Bainbridge,1.61 percent to Attapulgus, .77 percent to Brinson, and 1.01 percent to Climax.

The City plans to use their allocation on paving and repair roads, sidewalks and storm water. They would purchase $1,317.500 worth of road equipment. Both men agreed that there were ongoing discussions on the two entities sharing use of the equipment.

Reynolds said it takes $108,000 to pave one mile of roadway, and the City is currently only paving two miles per year. The City’s goal is to resurface 45 miles in the City. “It would take 46 years to do what we will be able to do in five years (with this tax),” stated Reynolds.

Questions from Rotarians ranged from (1) How will it impact sales tax on new vehicles? (The answer was, “It won’t.” ) to (2) Have studies been done that compare the cost of hiring the work done, as opposed to purchasing equipment to do it ourselves. Answer: “We can do it ourselves cheaper.”

Advance voting is going on the rest of this week. Then voting date is Tuesday, November 7.