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Sales tax program topped Forsyth Countys revised projections

FORSYTH COUNTY — More money than officials expected could be available for certain Forsyth County projects.

Dave Gruen, Forsyth’s chief financial officer, gave a presentation Tuesday to the county commission on available funds left from the 1-cent sales tax program voters approved in 2008.

Gruen recalled how officials had tempered expectations for the special purpose local option sales tax, known as SPLOST VI, during the economic downturn. In the end, however, more funds were collected than anticipated.

“When that collection started, when the recession hit, the amounts in every area were reduced by 17.5 percent to reduce the projections and brought that down to about $139,812,500,” Gruen said.

“By the time collections had finished, by the end of June 2013, we knew we had exceeded the reduced amount. So we were able to add back $7.4 million of the board’s commitment with road projects that are now under way.”

Those funds, totaling nearly $500,000, will likely go toward the reductions.

Between those funds, the county’s remaining budget of about $9.2 million and encumbrances of about $9.4 million, Gruen said the county had about $19 million to go toward projects.

Projects funded by SPLOST VI were broken down into road and non-transportation categories. The Sexton Hall senior center, Post Road Library and Fire Stations 3 and 4 were built using those funds.

Road projects included were the winding of Bethelview Road and a 1.25-mile extension of Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

Gruen said the unexpected money, as well as some savings from projects, have benefitted the county’s parks and recreation department, which is currently funded in large part by the shrinking parks, recreation and green space bond voters also approved in 2008.

The county is currently on SPLOST VII, the first $100 million of which went toward construction of the new jail, courthouse and two parking decks in downtown Cumming.

No action was taken during the work session Tuesday, though it appears commissioners will revisit the topic at a future meeting.