1. On November 5, 2013, a special election will be held in Chatham County to submit to the qualified voters of Chatham County
the following question:
Continuation of 1 % Special Sales Tax
Shall a special one percent sales and use tax be imposed in Chatham County for a period of six years for the raising of an estimated amount of $370,000,000 for the purposes of funding certain capital outlay projects within Chatham County and the municipalities in Chatham County including storm-water
and drainage; road, street, bridge, and transportation; water and sewer infrastructure; administrative, cultural, judicial, industrial and recreational facilities and improvements; park facilities and improvements; greenspace; public works and public safety equipment and facilities?
If imposition of the tax is approved by the voters, such vote shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligation debt of Chatham County in the principal amount not to exceed $30,000,000 for County projects.
2. All qualified voters desiring to vote in favor of imposing the tax shall vote "Yes" and all qualified voters opposed to levying the tax shall vote "No." If more than one-half of the votes cast are in favor of imposing the tax then the tax shall be imposed beginning October 1, 2014, or the earliest date authorized by law.
3. If such special purpose sales and use tax is to be imposed, Chatham County, acting by and through the Board of Commissioners of Chatham County, may issue general obligation debt, in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $30,000,000. The proceeds from such general obligation debt, if issued, shall be used to fund all or a portion of the projects described in the foregoing question. The maximum interest rate paid per year shall not exceed six percent annum. The maximum amount of principal to be paid in each year during the life of the debt shall be as follows:
The Board of Commissioners may issue aggregate general obligation debt which is less than $30,000,000 and reduce the principal amount maturing shown above.
In summary, the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) has enabled Chatham County as a community of about 240,000 citizens to invest some $1.5 billion in capital improvements. This valuable economic engine has not only provided a popular way to fund necessary capital improvements in roads, drainage, recreation, economic development and civic projects but also helped to fuel the local economy in jobs and construction. The Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce estimates that buyers from outside of Chatham County pay 38% of the sales tax.
Of Georgia’s 159 counties, only Chatham County has the distinction of implementing SPLOST when it first became authorized (1985) and continuing it every year thereafter. Under the law, the 1% increase in the sales tax can be used for a specific period/dollar amount for certain capital projects (i.e. roads, courthouses, recreation and libraries) and other projects by interlocal agreement, such as drainage and civic and community-based improvements.
SPLOST has proved a popular revenue source. Voters have approved it in every election (1985, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2003). With an 80%+ approval rate, the current tax will expire September 30, 2008.
Through the added penny, Chatham County will have generated some $1 billion, including interest earnings. Add to this amount some $500 million in funds leveraged from the Georgia Department of Transportation for road projects, the value of an added penny totals some $1.5 billion. This number does not include matching state funds for other projects and private foundation funding for civic and community projects.
To put this amount of money into perspective for a community of Chatham County’s size, these funds have enabled more public improvements during a 20-year period than the sum total of public improvements (excluding ports and schools) during the past century.
To generate the sales tax revenues from ad valorem taxes during a comparable 20-year period would cost the owner of a $100,000 home more than $12,000 in added property taxes.
From 1985-2003, road and drainage projects benefitted from 73% of SPLOST funding; 12% economic development; 4% recreation and greenspace; and 11%, other.
While Chatham County has used 73% of the funds for roads and drainage, voters have approved use of the funds for many other quality of life issues:
Public accountability can be assured by independent annual audits of the sales tax funds. State law requires that the funds remain separate by collection period, and each audit provides a listing of projects, budgets and expenditures on an annual basis.
Distribution table for the proposed $445,300,000 in projected SPLOST 2008 proceeds