Before you go to the polls, please consider what an opportunity would be created for improving both the city and the county if the voters of Liberty County decided yes to the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST). The State of Georgia took the gasoline sales tax and changed it to an excise tax a couple of years ago. That meant that Liberty County and its municipalities lost all sales tax for gasoline and that took a big chunk out of the local budgets. Liberty County is one of only fifteen metropolitan statistical areas in the State of Georgia, a result of our continued growth and expansion. With this growth comes the challenge of how to deal with expensive upgrades to infrastructure such as transportation enhancements. Realizing costs needed to fund these improvements, the General Assembly provided an alternative to property taxes when it authorized counties to implement TSPLOST. What is TSPLOST? A special purpose local option sales tax authorized by voters which is used to fund capital outlay projects for transportation purposes only. If enacted it would go into effect on July 1, 2020, with a proposed rate of 1.0%. A maximum amount of 54 million dollars is what could be raised from the additional one penny. This collection of the tax would cease either on the final day that the maximum authorized amount is collected (up to five years) OR at the end of the calendar quarter that the DOR Commissioner determines the tax will have raised revenues sufficient to provide funds specified. Funds can only be spent for transportation purposes which are generally defined by Georgia law as improvements related to roads, bridges, sidewalks, bicycle paths, public transit, rails, airports, buses, seaports and all accompanying infrastructure including new general obligation debt and other multiyear obligations issued to finance such purposes. The law dictates that 30% of the proceeds be used for projects consistent with the Statewide Strategic Transportation Plan. Each jurisdiction will decide their own projects with the remaining authorized funds. It can be confusing, but the ballot question will look similar to: “Shall a special one (1%) percent sales and use tax be imposed in the special district consisting of Liberty County for a period not to exceed five (5) years and for the raising of not more than an estimated amount of $54,000,000 for transportation purposes.” It is my hope that you will encourage other voters to be educated on this matter since early voting will begin March 2, 2020 and the main referendum will occur March 24, 2020. If you still have questions please be sure to contact myself or another Commissioner.
Donald Lovette Chairman Liberty County Board of Commissioners