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Forsyth County Commission sends SPLOST agreement to city

Forsyth County and city of Cumming officials are nearing an agreement for how to split potential SPLOST VIII – special purpose local option sales tax – funds.

At a recent work session, Forsyth County Commissioners voted 5-0 to have County Attorney Ken Jarrard draft a formal agreement with the city regarding the funding and have County Manager Eric Johnson transmit an agreement on the projects to the city of Cumming.  

The county and city will each receive a portion of funds for their own projects, and previously having a number of joint projects had been discussed.

During the meeting, Jarrard said instead of funding the joint projects through an agreement, the new proposal would take “off the joint city-county projects of $6 million, putting the $5 million back into the road, streets, bridges and sidewalk category in the city of Cumming, then carving out a million for parks and recreation.”

He said the new proposal would eliminate the need for agreements.

Under the agreement, the city would receive nearly $8.5 million – or 3.1 percent of the expected collection of revenue, proportional to the city’s population – and the $6 million for the other projects.

“That would mean the county’s percentage if you just tally this up would be 94.7 percent and the city’s percentage would be, and this is pretty accurate, 5.3 percent,” Jarrard said.

As part of the commissioners’ motion, an upgrade project at Dobbs Creek Recreation Center was designated as a city project.

County Manager Eric Johnson said parts of the discussions have included the city giving a letter of support for the county to have its own pipe to draw water from Lake Lanier. Currently, only the city has such a permit.

“We are asking the city to give us a letter of support for the county [water intake] into Lake Lanier. I believe the mayor thinks its OK for the city to agree with that,” he said.

Some of the proposed county projects include pavement widening, development and improvements for the Big Creek Greenway renovation or development of new county parks and facility and a west precinct for the county sheriff’s office.

Previously, the county planned to use the first $100 million collected to pay off bond debt from the $200 million transportation bond approved by voters in 2014. Since $100 million of those bonds have not been issued, moving those projects to SPLOST has been considered.

The proposed city projects include the creation of a new "northern bypass" that would connect Hwy. 9 to Pilgrim Mill Road; improvements and maintenance to existing roads; expansion of the city’s aquatic center and the arena at the Cumming Fairgrounds; and the creation of a more accessible veterans memorial in the city.

As part of their motion at the work session, commissioners added language requiring the city to use a portion of its funding for plans for the bypass.

Previously the county projected for totals of a five-year, $223,585,000, and six-year, $273,865,000, SPLOST collection and promised $100 million to go toward debt for the $200 million transportation bond approved by voters in 2014.

SPLOST was first approved in Forsyth County in 1987 and has been continued six times since. Voters will decide whether or not to extend the program on Nov. 6.

The city is expected to discuss SPLOST projects at their meeting on Tuesday.