VALDOSTA — Lowndes County and its municipalities have signed a SPLOST VIII agreement that has been submitted to the Lowndes County Board of Elections.

Since the special purpose local option sales tax is a county tax, the Lowndes County Commission is responsible for drafting the agreement with each city's SPLOST project list included. The county has no control over any municipality's list, county officials said.

The sales tax will be included on the Nov. 5 ballot for voters to decide on a new cent tax. It would take effect as SPLOST VII ends.

The tax referendum will specify what projects the proceeds will fund, and each voter will vote on the same referendum regardless of where they live in the county.

If passed, the sales tax would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020 and is anticipated to collect $134 million, which would then be distributed to the governmental entities based on respective populations.

Valdosta would receive the most money with $65,001,883, followed by Lowndes with $61,924,931. The other municipalities will get significantly less money with Hahira receiving $3.4 million, Remerton getting $1.25 million, Lake Park getting $1.21 million and Dasher receiving $1.15 million.

The projects must be capital in nature, which includes facilities such as buildings, parks or land improvements or infrastructure such as sidewalks, curbs and gutter. 

Government officials prefer to use the sales tax because it allows them to keep property taxes low. Since Lowndes County is a regional hub, most of the SPLOST funding comes from people visiting the county, which means Lowndes County residents don't have to foot the entire bill like with a property tax increase.

The final decision is up to the voters in less than three months. 

Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256

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