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Bill to expand DeKalb SPLOST passes state legislature 

DeKalb County Trending

Bill to expand DeKalb SPLOST passes state legislature 

A map of DeKalb County.

DeKalb County, GA — The Georgia General Assembly has passed a bill that would allow for DeKalb County to use funds from its special purpose local option sales tax toward parks and libraries, in addition to transportation. 

Under the current SPLOST, 85% of the funds have to go toward transportation and public safety and 15% goes toward capital outlay projects. House Bill 431 strikes this requirement but does not increase the tax rate. 

“In removing that language, that just allows DeKalb to fully utilize its SPLOST to be able to use it on libraries and parks basically, like all the other counties in the state,” state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) said during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on March 15. “We’ll just broaden the pool. Transportation would still be an important consideration, but allow the public to have some input into the process.”

DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Michael Thurmond added that the county sought to expand the number of capital investments it can make. 

“During the last six years, we’ve surfaced over 250 miles of the worst streets and roads in DeKalb County, Georgia,” Thurmond said. “We’re going to continue to focus on that, but we also need to make investments in parks, senior centers and libraries as well because that’s so important to protecting the quality of life in any county, particularly in DeKalb.”

The bill also extends DeKalb’s Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax (EHOST) for six years. 

“One of the things, No. 1, the most important aspect of this bill is the EHOST. We’re generating $600M in ad valorem tax relief for DeKalb County ad valorem taxpayers,” Thurmond said. 

In DeKalb, the SPLOST and EHOST are tied together. 

“One has to be in place for the other. If the SPLOST went away, the EHOST would go away, and vice versa,” DeKalb lobbyist Dan Baskerville said. 

In other DeKalb County news:

– March 23 was DeKalb Day at the state capitol to celebrate the county’s bicentennial. 

Officials from DeKalb County and Decatur, lobbyists and state legislators gathered for a reception in the Capitol rotunda to honor the current and former members of the DeKalb County House and Senate delegations. 

“DeKalb County was founded on Dec. 9, 1822, as Georgia’s 56th county and celebrates its bicentennial this year,” Drenner said during an announcement on the House floor. 

Thurmond praised the delegation for passing the SPLOST legislation. Sen. Kim Jackson (D- Senate District 41) added that now it’s time for voters to do their job and approve the referendum in November. 

“Just so you know, we continue to offer important legislation for DeKalb County,” Jackson said. “It’s been a great honor to work with the commissioners as well as they [come up with] ideas on ways that we can make DeKalb better together under this gold dome.” 

She also wished the county a happy 200th birthday, and Thurmond led the crowd in singing happy birthday. 

– Rep. Becky Evans (D- Atlanta) introduced bills on DeKalb’s homestead tax exemptions. The bills passed the state House on March 23 and now go to the Senate. 

Currently, homeowners who are 65 years or older or 100% permanently disabled may be eligible for a $16,500 exemption from school taxes and $14,000 exemption from county taxes if the household limit is $15,000 Georgia Net Income. It increases the exemption to $16,500 for school taxes and $14,000 for county levies.

House Bills 591 and 593 increase the income cap to $37,500 for these exemptions. 

The Georgia Net Income requirement is a formula provided by the Georgia Department of Revenue. For this year, up to $43,524 for an individual or $87,048 for joint applicants in Social Security and retirement benefits may be excluded when calculating Georgia Net Income, according to the tax commissioner’s website.

Homeowners who are age 62 or older or are 100% permanently disabled may be eligible for a homestead exemption on about $20,000 of assessed value and the income limit is $16,000 gross income. 

HB 593 raises the income cap to $40,000. It also leaves in place the full exemption from school taxes for disabled individuals and seniors age 62 or older with a household income of $10,000. 

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