Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 7, 2012

Meetings set for SPLOST negotiations

VALDOSTA — City and county leaders have another sales tax to divide — the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax or SPLOST. The penny sales tax has to be negotiated every five years, and is a continuation, not a new tax.

Unlike LOST, or the Local Option Sales Tax, voters get to decide if the SPLOST will continue at the ballot box in November.

During the previous SPLOST cycle, local leadership estimated they would raise $180 million, but due to the struggling economy, about $150 million is expected. For the upcoming SPLOST revenue stream, leaders are taking a conservative estimate of $150 million.

City Manager Larry Hanson and County Manager Joe Pritchard have already discussed the SPLOST division over the past couple weeks and have come to a mutual understanding.

“I think it’s important to use a conservative estimate, because if it ends up being over-estimated, we might be unable to continue with some projects,” said Hanson. “There’s so much instability in the world and economy... We used to be able to predict fairly well future growth, but in today’s financial environment, I think it’s important to be cautious and conservative.”

According to Hanson, Valdosta will receive 49.91 percent of the projected $150 million in SPLOST revenue, while Lowndes County will receive about 45 percent of the revenue, based on their unincorporated citizen population. Remerton, Lake Park, Hahira and Dasher will split the remaining five percent.

“There shouldn’t be any negotiations. Monday should be more of a formality,” said Hanson.

Because SPLOST is based solely on population and not subjective variables like with LOST, local staff doesn’t foresee a lengthy negotiation period. Instead, leaders will be educated about the process and when their respective council needs to approve the necessary legal documentation.

Local leadership is expected to have a list of estimated proposed project costs, but specifics costs and projects have not been released yet.

Pritchard said that the county wants to use the money for roads, water/sewer lines, public safety and public works equipment, a new library and possible renovations to the Lowndes County Historic Courthouse.

The SPLOST negotiations will be held on the second floor of the Lowndes County Administrative Complex at 9:30 a.m. in the conference room adjacent to commission chambers. The public is invited to attend.

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