Tax on the dollar in Bulloch County will remain at seven percent after a landslide vote Tuesday to continue the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).
Voters also passed a referendum granting Bulloch County Commissioners “redevelopment powers” – a Tax Allocation District (TAD) that will enable them to form a district where newcomers – businesses and industry – pay special taxes which in turn will fund improvements and infrastructure for a proposed industrial park on Interstate 16 and U.S. 301 South.
The SPLOST is not an additional tax, but a continuance of the one-cent sales tax that has been in effect for years. Bulloch County manager Tom Couch said the SPLOST funds projects and assets such as Splash in the Boro, the Bulloch County Jail expansion, the new Statesboro Police station, Mill Creek Park improvements and the new tennis center, Averitt Center for the Arts, the Georgia State Patrol barracks that were built a few years ago, and more.
The SPLOST money is based on sales revenues in the county, and about 40 percent of that comes from visitors from other counties, he said.
The SPLOST vote passed with 3,318 to 1,483 votes, which translates to 69 percent in favor, 31 percent against the tax.
“This really makes me, and hopefully other tax payers, very happy,” said Bulloch County Commissioner Roy Thompson. “I think we have shown the tax payers of Bulloch County we try to make the best decisions as to spending money and to help keep taxes from being raised.”
Couch has said that a probable answer to funding needs would be raising property taxes had the SPLOST not been approved.
“To me, it was a no-brainer,” Thompson said. “I know how important SPLOST is to Bulloch County, and 40percent of it comes from the outside. Other people help pay for the things we have. I would hate to think what would happen if SPLOST had not passed.”
The TAD referendum addressed Georgia’s Redevelopment Power Law, which allows local governments to use Tax Allocation Districts (TADs) to fund redevelopment projects.
TADs “help local governments attract private development and new businesses which create jobs, draws customers and generates additional public and private investment without putting pressure on the current tax base and taxpayers,” Couch said.
New businesses coming into the designate district will pay their taxes, which mean increased property values in that district due to the new businesses, and the increase in taxes from higher property values will be set aside for funding the infrastructure in the industrial park, he said.
Property taxes for residents will not be raised through the TAD.
This move will help county commissioners move towards beginning construction on the proposed industrial park’s infrastructure, Thompson said.
While the Town of Register did not have an election due to no seats being challenged, Brooklet saw a few shakeups and Portal remains unchanged.
Portal Mayor Larry Motes was unchallenged, as was Councilman Clint Lovett. Council member Jennifer Yates, challenged by Sissy Carter, kept her seat with a 66-52 vote win.
In Brooklet, Incumbent Councilman Russell Davis beat opposing candidate Helen Wilson by 57 to 43 percent.
Mayor Joe Grooms, who chose to relinquish a chance to run for mayor in order to challenge incumbent Randy Newman for Council Seat 1, lost by a vote of 55 to 45 percent.
In a vote of 53 to 47 percent, William Hendrix won the seat for mayor, edging out challenger Sylvia Prosser.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.