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Transfer from general fund going to Forsyth County sales tax projects

FORSYTH COUNTY — In an effort to jump-start some roadwork, Forsyth County’s government intends to shift up to $5 million from its general fund toward projects in the 1-cent sales tax program.

The money will be repaid over time as the tax revenue comes in, according to officials, who said the transfer would not affect the county’s bond rating.

Forsyth voters approved the extension of the special purpose local option sales tax, known as SPLOST VII, in 2011. Its projects are different from those in the county’s $200 million transportation bond program, which passed last fall.

“We’ve come to the point now as we continue to work on projects that are in SPLOST, but not in the road bond, to go out with some right-of-way purchases and some engineering,” said David Gruen, the county’s chief financial officer.

John Cunard, director of engineering for the county, said advancing the money would accelerate work on the projects.

“The reason we’re not waiting is because if we wait to design a year from now it’s going to take us time to design, to acquire right of way. We’ll be way behind the ball,” he said.

“We need to forward now and complete right-of-way acquisition so we’re ready to go to construction.”

The projects in question involve widening roads, including Sharon Road, and adding sidewalks.

“Basically, it’s all the SPLOST Category A sidewalk and projects that are already under design and we’re ready to buy right of way and move forward with construction,” Cunard said.

Gruen added that the money likely would be paid back by early next year.

The county commission voted 4-0, with Commissioner Jim Boff absent, to approve the plan during a recent work session.