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Decatur City Commission approves list of projects to be funded with penny sales tax

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Decatur City Commission approves list of projects to be funded with penny sales tax

Decatur City Hall.
Decatur City Hall.

Decatur City Hall.

The Decatur City Commission held a special called meeting on July 14 and approved a list of $22 million worth of projects to be paid for with a proposed penny sales tax.

The bulk of those projects, about 68 percent according to City Manager Peggy Merriss, are already being paid for out of the current Homestead Option Sales Tax. The city would receive about $3.6 million annually under a new proposed sales tax. The penny Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, could be on the ballot November.

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That tax is expected to generate $540 million in revenue over five years for projects such as roads, sidewalks, police stations, fire stations, parks and libraries. There’s another question on the ballot that must also be approved for the sales tax to take effect. The other question asks if voters would consider dedicating 100 percent of the Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax proceeds to property tax relief, or EHOST. If the measure passes, property taxes would be lowered and residents living in cities would likely see the greatest benefit. For a more detailed explanation, click here.

If EHOST is approved, the current HOST money would go away. Merriss said the city would use the SPLOST money to continue paying for the purchase of Fire Station No. 1, the Leveritt Public Works Building, the Decatur Recreation Center and the Beacon Municipal Center from the Urban Redevelopment Agency of the City of Decatur. That is currently being funded with the HOST money.

In addition to those projects, the city also plans to allocate $5 million to improving the intersection of West Howard Avenue and Atlanta Avenue. There will also be $1.5 million for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and $1 million to buy and improve parks for the city.

The County Commission is expected to vote on July 19 on whether to put the EHOST and SPLOST on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Merriss said the improvements to West Howard were part of the list of projects that would’ve been funded with the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which voters in the region overwhelmingly rejected in 2012.

“Decatur was one of the few places that approved the TSPLOST,” Merriss said.

In addition to approving the list of projects, the City Commission also approved an intergovernmental agreement with the county for the distribution of the sales tax money. Mayor Patti Garrett said the city held its special called meeting at the request of county officials who wanted to have the agreements in place before the County Commission’s July 19 meeting. The City Commission is holding its regular meeting today, July 18.

“We felt like a called meeting was the best way to address it,” Garrett said at the July 14 meeting.

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