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Commissioners discuss SPLOST VIII projects ahead of meeting with city

Next week, Forsyth County Commissioners will discuss upcoming SPLOST VIII — special purpose local option sales tax — projects with members of the Cumming City Council. This week, commissioners were getting the county’s proposals ready to go.

On Wednesday morning, commissioners took part in a special called work session to discuss and refine projects from the county’s side. Local voters will decide whether to continue SPLOST on Nov. 6.

“Between now and next week, what we’ll do is break these into the categories we talked about and we’ll have the discussion with Cumming and see how [commissioners] want to fine tune this,” said County Manager Eric Johnson near the end of the meeting. 

At the meeting, county staff displayed projections for totals of a five-year, $223,585,000, and six-year, $273,865,000, SPLOST collection. Commissioners previously promised to use $100 million to go toward debt for the $200 million transportation bond approved by voters in 2014.

Based on county projections, the city would receive $6,917,324 in the five-year plan and $8,472,898 in the six-year plan. Those figures are about 3.1 percent of the total to be collected, the same percentage of city residents in the county population in the 2010 census. 

Under the six-year plan, $49.3 million of the county’s total would be used for transportation, $40 million for parks and recreation, $10 million for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s office, $13.5 million for the fire department, $5 million for senior services, $10 million for water and sewer, $9 million for facilities, $9.1 million for libraries, $250,000 for recycling and solid waste and $830,000 for animal services. 

City and county officials are planning to meet on Tuesday.

SPLOST was first approved in Forsyth County in 1987 and has been continued six times since. 

The county previously held 10 meetings, two in each commission district, to hear what projects county residents would like to see. At those meetings, 182 surveys were completed and 92 residents left general comments. 

Based on the input of those who responded, transportation was found to be the biggest need, earning 33.3 percent of responses, followed by parks and recreation (13.6 percent), sheriff’s office (10.6 percent) and fire department (9.1 percent). 

At a town hall on SPLOST VIII projects, residents said they would like to see funding go toward libraries, a county swim facility and improvements for the city of Cumming’s Veterans War Memorial.

City of Cumming officials have previously discussed using the funds for expansion of the covered arena at the Cumming Fairgrounds. 

In the past, the construction of the new jail, courthouse and parking decks in downtown Cumming, new fire stations and fire trucks, road widening and infrastructure improvements and purchasing land for county parks has been undertaken with SPLOST funding.