By Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
Gwinnett residents have seen the benefits of SPLOST, or special purpose local option sales tax, ever since the state legislature gave us the option to ask voters to support it nearly three decades ago. In fact, Gwinnett voters have approved nine of 10 proposed programs, most recently by a 58 to 42 percent margin. The new SPLOST sales tax program took effect this past April when the previous one ended.
Sales taxes in Gwinnett are six cents for every dollar spent, with four going to the state, one to county government, and one to Gwinnett schools. Our sales tax continues to be lower than almost all other counties in Georgia.
The 2014 SPLOST is expected to raise an estimated $498 million over three years. Of this amount, 78.9 percent is allocated to Gwinnett County and 21.1 percent is shared among the 16 cities in Gwinnett. The County is dedicating 70 percent of its share to pay for new transportation infrastructure–and most cities have dedicated a large portion to transportation improvements as well. Transportation needs are our biggest priority for the current program, but public safety, parks, library relocation/renovation, and senior facilities will also get some of the funds.
A citizens committee helped allocate funding to 10 transportation categories and then prioritized specific projects in each. Your district commissioners and I set project lists and budgets based on their recommendations. For the other areas besides transportation, we also relied on recommendations from citizens and staff for projects.
A citizens committee also monitors progress and expenses and oversees an external audit of all SPLOST funds to make sure we’re delivering on our promises.
Over the years, SPLOST funds have helped pay for the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, the Gwinnett Center convention facilities, parks, recreation facilities like community centers and aquatics centers, greenspace, Sugarloaf Parkway, Satellite Boulevard, new police and fire stations, and new branch libraries, to name just a few.
Last month, we broke ground for a much-needed new academic building for training firefighters and emergency medical technicians at our Fire Academy near Dacula. We also began renovations of five highway bridges and both pools at the Bethesda Park Aquatic Center. And we opened Phase 3 of Little Mulberry Park.
Building innovative diverging diamond interchanges on the Pleasant Hill Road and Jimmy Carter Boulevard bridges across Interstate 85 near Duluth and Norcross are just two examples of how we’re using SPLOST funds today to reduce bottlenecks so traffic can flow freely throughout the county. Transportation upgrades also include intersections and side¬walks, especially in school zones.
All these improvements help preserve and protect the quality of life in Gwinnett County. I, for one, truly appreciate the support and confidence of the electorate and the time and talents of the residents who share their input and monitor our progress.
Your pennies are working to keep Gwinnett a great play to live, work, play, and raise a family!
For more information, be sure to visit http://www.gwinnettSPLOST.com.