2017 Newton County SPLOST Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is SPLOST?

Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is a 1% tax on all sales and uses in Newton County. SPLOST is used for infrastructure, capital outlay projects and debt services.

How long is SPLOST collected?

SPLOST is collected for 6 years. However, the SPLOST accrual period is typically 5 or 6 years during which the funds are accrued. Depending on the economy and urgency, some projects may be bonded in order to begin before all the money has accrued. The bond is then repaid with the SPLOST funds.

How much is anticipated to be collected by this SPLOST?

It is estimated that the 1% sales tax will generate approximately $64,800,000.00

Who pays the SPLOST?

SPLOST is a sales tax, so everyone pays it when spending within the Newton County economy. SPLOST can be considered a comparative example of a “fair tax” as everyone pays it. It is not paid for only by the citizens of Newton County, but EVERYONE spending in Newton County, even visitors! The funding generated and projects supported are partially funded (basically subsidized) by others who do not live in Newton County. These “pennies at work” have funded many successful projects throughout Newton County.

How are the collections distributed between Newton County and its municipalities?

Newton County 78%
City of Covington 14.5460%
City of Oxford 2.3163%
City of Porterdale 3.7603%
Town of Newborn 0.7824%
City of Mansfield 0.5950%

How was the SPLOST project list determined?

The Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) understood that the public supports projects and programs the public helps to create. The BOC recognized the need for citizen input and public participation for transparency in helping to create successful SPLOST projects; therefore, a volunteer citizens SPLOST committee was appointed by the BOC. This committee learned of county needs and heard from many groups promoting worthy projects. All the projects were discussed and weighed through a facilitated process resulting in recommendations to the BOC. The BOC voted in December of 2016 to establish our current SPLOST referendum list.

What projects are on the 2017 SPLOST list?

Newton County Projects

Transportation
Debt Service/Retirement
E911 Communications
Westside Youth Outreach Facility
Senior Expansion
Recreation Department existing facilities
District 2 Improvements
Springhill Park Facility
Porterdale Park Upgrades
District 4 Existing Park Upgrades
Chimney Park
Yellow River Trail
Library
Animal Control Facility and Equipment
Washington Street land acquisition
Sheriff Office Upgrade existing facilities
Solid Waste
Fleet Replacement and Equipment
Fire Services
Economic Development
Total

City of Covington Projects
Transportation projects
Sanitary Sewer Inspection and Construction
Public Safety
Total

City of Oxford Projects
Water and Sewer System
Transportation
Parks and Recreation
Public Safety
Total

City of Porterdale Projects
Public Works, Roads, Transportation, Park Maintenance
Yellow River Park
Municipal Building
Gymnasium Improvements
Total

Town of Newborn Projects
Roads
Public Safety
Facility
Parks/Recreation
Total

City of Mansfield Projects
Transportation and/or Infrastructure
Facilities and/or Historical Facilities
Public Safety
Total

 

Estimated Costs

$18,330,793
$10,403,963
$3,666,159
$495,427
$1,783,537
$990,854
$495,426
$495,427
$148,628
$495,427
$99,085
$1,337,652
$495,427
$1,199,488
$495,427
$2,972,561
$1,387,195
$3,467,988
$792,683
$990,854
$50,544,000

Estimated Costs
$4,029,944
$1,575,000
$3,820,817
$9,425,761

Estimated Costs
$500,000
$500,000
$400,000
$100,965
$1,500,965

Estimated Costs
$393,600
$370,314
$1,574,000
$98,800
$2,436,714

Estimated Costs
$228,150
$50,700
$126,750
$101,400
$507,000

Estimated Costs
$192,780
$77,112
$115,668
$385,560

Can the SPLOST ballot be designed to authorize voter approval on some, but not all, projects on the SPLOST ballot?

No, the law sets forth the specific language to be used in seeking approval of the voters in a SPLOST referendum. It does not authorize any alternative ballot questions or form that would allow for a “pick and choose” ballot.

Can SPLOST funds be used to construct projects for local charities or other nonprofit organizations?

No. The gratuities clause of the Georgia Constitution bars local governments from using SPLOST revenues or any other public funds to fund the capital outlay projects for non-public entities. This restriction applies to for-profit organizations as well as not-for-profit organizations, including charitable organizations.

After the SPLOST referendum has passed, may a county use other available revenue to begin the construction on the SPLOST-approved projects then reimburse itself once the SPLOST revenues start to come in?

Yes. Counties may issue debt or borrow from their general fund to get projects underway promptly.

Can SPLOST revenues be moved between voter-approved projects to accommodate greater costs in one or more of the projects?

Yes. Since project costs are estimates, each local government receiving SPLOST revenues may shift funds between their approved projects (as long as all projects are completed).

In case of a “shortfall” of SPLOST funds to pay for projects, what happens?

The approved projects could be scaled back, but not abandoned. A local government must make up any shortfall from their general fund or other funding sources.

Can a county or municipality change its mind and not fund one or more of the SPLOST projects despite voter approval in a referendum?

No. The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that the governing authority is obliged to use proceeds from the SPLOST for the projects approved in the SPLOST referendum.

Can projects be authorized and constructed according to different time frames?

Yes. Where a county and municipalities enter into an intergovernmental agreement, the agreement must specify a schedule for distributing the SPLOST proceeds and the priority or order in which the projects are to be funded or partially funded. Time frames for individual projects should reflect the priority.

If a municipality has completed its projects and has SPLOST revenue remaining, can it give this revenue to another municipality that needs additional revenues to complete its approved projects?

No. Any funds remaining after a municipality has completed all of its approved projects can become “excess proceeds”.

Can excess proceeds be used to pay authority debt?

No. Excess proceeds may not be used to reduce existing debt of an authority, whether it is a development authority, water authority, housing authority or any other type of local authority.

Can a county terminate its SPLOST early?

No. Only the state revenue commissioner can terminate a SPLOST and only in accordance with the time or revenue limits authorized by the SPLOST law.

Can SPLOST revenue be used to acquire unimproved land?

Yes.

Can property purchased with SPLOST revenue later be converted to a different use?

There is nothing in the SPLOST law that prevents conversion to a different use.

Can capital outlay projects supporting enterprise services be funded through SPLOST?

Yes. The law allows counties and municipalities to use SPLOST revenues to fund capital outlay projects supporting enterprise operations, such as water or sewer system improvements.

Can capital projects serving more than one county or municipality or a regional authority be funded through SPLOST?

Yes. Several types of regional facilities may be financed through SPLOST, including development authorities, regional jails, regional correctional institutions and other detention facilities, regional solid waste handling facilities and regional recovered material processing facilities. Where a proper intergovernmental agreement is in place, SPLOST revenues may be used to finance a county’s portion of a project owned or operated by a regional authority.

Can SPLOST funds be used to reduce property taxes?

Although counties cannot directly include a property tax rollback as an eligible expenditure on the referendum, counties can use SPLOST funds to pay for capital outlay projects that would otherwise be funded through property tax revenues. Also, if excess proceeds remain after SPLOST projects have been completed and there is no county debt, the excess proceeds must go to the general fund of the county to reduce county property taxes.

Can SPLOST proceeds be used to pay off revenue bonds that are outstanding at the time of SPLOST referendum?

No. While SPLOST proceeds can be used to retire existing general obligation debt, the proceeds cannot be used to pay off existing revenue bonds. However, counties may issue revenue bonds after the referendum is approved to provide funds to get projects initiated before all revenues are collected.

Can SPLOST be borrowed to pay for other county services or projects and paid back later from the general fund?

No. SPLOST funds may only be used for capital outlay projects approved by the voters in a SPLOST referendum.

Who establishes the revenue estimate and the project costs specified in the resolution and on the ballot?

The county is responsible for estimating the SPLOST revenues expected to be collected over the life of the SPLOST and the costs of all projects to be financed. The county should also ensure that the sum of all projects costs, including those submitted by municipalities, equals the estimated revenues.

When is the SPLOST VOTE scheduled?

The 2017 SPLOST will be voted on by Newton County residents on March 21, 2017. However, for voter convenience, EARLY VOTING and ABSENTEE VOTING are available starting February 27th.

What will the SPLOST ballot look like?