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Forsyth County commissioners mulling SPLOST VIII
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Forsyth County’s current special 1-cent sales tax will be collected until summer 2019, but officials are already looking toward its replacement.

At a recent work session, commissioners held their first discussion on SPLOST VIII, which would go into effect after the current SPLOST VII expires, and voted 4-0 to hold a special meeting on the plan Feb. 7.

“If history is any precedent, the last time we were two years out was about the time that the board of commissioners began to think about whether they wanted to renew SPLOST,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

Jarrard said discussions for several projects had ended with considering them for the next SPLOST and commissioners needed to begin deciding which would make it.

“The rubber hits the road this year, because we now have to start making those very difficult decisions, not the least of which was a resolution… some time ago that indicated that a certain percentage of SPLOST would be used to fund certain [general obligation] bond capital outlays,” he said.

District 4 commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said that decision would half the amount owed by homeowners on the county’s transportation bond, which was approved by voters in 2014.

“We couldn’t bind a future board, but we made promises to the public to that our $200 million transportation bond was passed that [and] if this SPLOST was passed, we would use the first $100 million to pay back that transportation bond.

County CFO Dave Gruen said the total amount to come in would depend on the economy.

“Right now, a six year SPLOST from this distance … would generate just a little over $250 million,” Gruen said. “I ran one recession-type scenario looking at the last downturn and recovery. Looking at a fairly significant recession, with a downturn of maybe 15 percent in one year and collections taking about three years to recover, that knocked about $25 million off.”

Forsyth will need to work out percentages with the city of Cumming, where collections also happen. For SPLOST VII, the city received about 12.5 percent of funds.

Commissioners also discussed when the next SPLOST would go on a ballot, which is required by law, and favored the 2018 mid-term election. The date will be discussed at the meeting.