When DeKalb County, Georgia, voters cast their ballots in the Nov. 7 election for various county and municipal officials, they also will decide whether to continue to have an additional 1 percent Special Local Option Sales Tax added to purchases made within the county for another six years starting in 2024.
The lengthy ballot question may at first glance seem complex, but if passed it will have a tremendous impact on the infrastructure and services provided to DeKalb County residents and businesses and to the 12 cities it encompasses.
“This is a vote on our track record using the SPLOST funds first passed in 2017,” says DeKalb County Board of Commissioners Presiding Officer and District 1 Representative Robert Patrick.
“What we’re asking the people of DeKalb County is whether they would like to see the further use of taxpayer funds to provide good roads, strong public safety and reliable sanitation services.
“This is obviously a decision every DeKalb voter should consider carefully,” Patrick adds. “I’m confident that our use of more than $600 million in SPLOST I funds has translated to many times that in return on investment and value to our residents and businesses.”
The ballot question seeks approval of extending the 1% percent sales tax for another six years. The penny sales tax will generate an estimated $850 million for public safety, transportation and recreational facilities like senior centers, parks and libraries and capital improvements. SPLOST funds that would flow to Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Stonecrest, Stone Mountain and Tucker would have similar uses.
The SPLOST II vote is linked to another ballot question as to whether a countywide homestead option sales and use tax exemption shall also be extended.
Voters can review a sample ballot before voting on Nov. 7 here: Sample ballot link.
Patrick noted that SPLOST II, if approved, would allow the county more flexibility in how it allocates spending from the tax.
As mandated by the General Assembly’s legislation underlying SPLOST I, 85 percent of all proceeds were to be spent on transportation and public safety, with the remaining 15 percent targeted to other capital outlay projects.
SPLOST II contains no such restrictions on how the county could allocate its funding if passed, bringing it in line with other areas of the state that have approved special option sales taxes over the years.
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said the Legislature’s decision to let the county apportion the funds as it sees fit is evidence that lawmakers approved of its stewardship of taxpayer funds.
“I certainly think we’ve managed SPLOST I revenues wisely, and I hope my fellow DeKalb County residents feel the same,” said Thurmond. “How they ultimately choose to vote is of course their decision, but I think the additional penny per dollar we’ve collected from the first SPLOST has been put to good use.”
As detailed in the ballot question, SPLOST II revenue will – if approved – help fund:
• Public safety facilities including “fire stations, police facilities, courts, and an animal welfare facility.”
• County transportation needs including “roads and streets, road and street repaving, sidewalks, bicycle paths/lanes, multi-use trails, mass transportation, and other road, street, and bridge purposes.”
• “Multi-generational recreational purposes, to include senior facilities, parks, libraries and related recreational facilities.”
• Other capital outlay projects including “physical and mental health facilities, and water, sewer, and/or stormwater facilities.”
Patrick said he and his colleagues on the County Commission have gotten a lot of input from residents who would like to see continued investment in transportation and public safety. There’s also a pressing need for a new animal shelter. The current one recently has resorted to euthanizing dogs because of they didn’t have enough room.
“I’ve heard a lot of concern about the heartbreaking conditions at the animal shelter, and I hope to see that remedied as quickly as possible,” Patrick said.
Depending upon where they live, DeKalb voters also will be voting in mayor and/or city council races in Avondale, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine lake, Stonecrest, Stone Mountain and Tucker, and on three races for positions on the Atlanta Board of Education.
The ballot also includes special elections for voters in Brookhaven regarding a homestead exemption, and for those in Decatur regarding homestead and school district homestead exemptions. Voters in Doraville will be asked whether to approve a $10 million bond referendum, and those in Dunwoody will be asked whether they support a $60 million bond issue to fund the acquisition and improvement of parks, recreational areas, trails and greenspace.
For more information on where to vote, please visit DeKalb County’s elections office website: https://www.dekalbcountyga.gov/voter-registration-elections/our-mission