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Forum to focus on tax referendum
Organizers want to examine issues
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Forsyth County News

If you go

* What: Smart Growth Forsyth SPLOST VII Information Meeting

* When: 7:15 to 10 p.m. Tuesday

* Where: Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce event building, 513 W. Maple St.



* Early voting begins.

* Local opinion: Vote no on SPLOST.

* Local opinion: Vote yes on SPLOST.

A community group hopes its forum this week will help those with questions about the upcoming 1-cent sales tax referendum.

Smart Growth Forsyth will hold an information meeting at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday on the Nov. 8 ballot question, which asks voters to extend the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, for six years.

Smart Growth has not taken a position on the issue, but rather seeks to provide "a community resource" for information, said Bob Slaughter, managing director.

"With the economy being what it is and the tax environment being what it is," Slaughter said, "Smart Growth wanted to provide a venue for folks to examine the issues surrounding SPLOST and get as much objective information as possible."

The possible extension of the sales tax, referred to as SPLOST VII, is projected to collect $200 million between 2013-19.

The current sixth round of the sales tax doesn’t expire until June 2013.

But if voters agree, the plan calls for spending $101 million in revenue from the proposed extension to build a new courthouse and emergency water generator, as well as expand the Forsyth County Detention Center.

According to the sales tax agreement, the revenue after the first $101 million would be split, with 87.5 percent going to the county and 12.5 percent to the city of Cumming.

Other county projects include: about $70 million for transportation improvements; about $3 million for an animal shelter; and $3.9 million to replace fire engines.

The city’s list includes an estimated $7 million for park and recreation projects and about $5.5 million for road improvements.

The Tuesday meeting will begin with a presentation about the proposed tax extension and then open up for questions, Slaughter said.

County Commission Chairman Brian Tam is expected to attend and field questions, Slaughter said.

He added that Smart Growth will mediate the open question portion.

Groups in favor and opposed to the referendum plan to attend the forum.

The Forsyth County Tea Party, which has announced its opposition, also intends to hold a town hall meeting on the sales tax issue.

That event is scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Forsyth County Center at Charles Place.