Several speak in opposition to TSPLOST at County Meeting

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TSPLOST Purple Heart County construction multifamily development

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – At the October County Meeting, a large crowd gathered to express their displeasure with the TSPLOST referendum and other issues.

Early voting is ongoing in Union County concerning the TSPLOST referendum, which if passed would add a one percent sales tax across the county. It would bring the total sales tax up to eight percent. Union County already has LOST, SPLOST and ESPLOST included in sales tax.

TSPLOST if approved by the voters would go into effect for five years and generate up to $35 million in income for transportation-related projects. TSPLOST can only go toward transportation projects and in some instances road department salaries since they work on local roads and bridges.

TSPLOST, like SPLOST and ESPLOST, must be voted on by the public every five years and only remains in effect if passed each time.

Those in favor of TSPLOST and Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris have stated that adding the TSPLOST sales tax would alleviate the burden on property owners. Instead of relying on property taxes, TSPLOST could supplement the general fund for the maintenance of roads and bridges.

The tax would also apply to everyone visiting Union County and not just the residents.

Scheduled speaker Doy Lively spoke out against TSPLOST decrying that this is the worst time to impose a new tax on the public. Everyone across the country is experiencing rising costs at the grocery store, pump, housing market, and beyond. Additionally, many in Union County survive on their Social Security paycheck alone.

Lively wasn’t the only individual in attendance to express displeasure with TSPLOST. Several in the crowd felt like the necessity of TSPLOST had been poorly justified and the county needed to manage funds more wisely.

They stated that they didn’t know where to ask questions about the budget, TSPLOST, or other issues.

The county just entered the last week of early voting for the TSPLOST issue and election day is on November 2.

Anyone with questions regarding TSPLOST or the county can contact the commissioner’s office at 706.439.6000.

Additional Business

Paris accepted a contract with Winkler and Winkler Construction for Union County Facilities Additions/ Renovations for $698,075. Senior Center renovations are included in the total project cost for $422,579. The location of the additions part of the project is being kept secret for personal safety reasons and amounts to $275,496.

Dr. Riccardo B. Rivas was appointed to the Board of Elections for a term ending on December 31, 2022. He is one of the two Democrats on the board. The Board of Elections consists of two Democrats, two Republicans, and the Elections Chair.

Two maintenance-related contracts were accepted. One with Cummins, Inc for generator maintenance at the E-911 Dispatch Center in the amount of $1,199.72. The second contract was with Mobile Communications America for 911 Dispatch Radio maintenance for $4,800.

North Carolina Department of Transportation will reimburse Union County $36,084 for paving 0.34 miles on Tate Road.

Early voting starts October 12 for TSPLOST

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early voting

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Early voting for the Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) referendum begins on Tuesday, October 12.

Union County voters have three weeks of early voting with two mandatory Saturday voting days on October 16 and 23. The Jury Assembly Room located on the first floor of the courthouse will be open for people to cast their ballots from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 2 and all precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The last day to submit an application for an absentee ballot is October 22. All absentee ballots are encouraged to be completed and mailed back in as soon as possible.

Currently, the courthouse has a standing mask mandate due to COVID-19 so anyone early voting will be expected to wear a mask while there.

Blairsville City Council Special Election

Early voting for the special election to fill deceased Councilmember Betty Easter’s unexpired term begins on October 12 at Blairsville City Hall. It will last until October 29 and include the two mandatory Saturdays. The polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On November 2, Blairsville residents can vote at city hall from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Anyone interested in absentee voting for the city council special election should contact Blairsville Elections Superintendent Kaye McCann.

Union County TSPLOST virtual town hall tonight at 6 p.m.

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TSPLOST Town Hall

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – With early voting starting this week, Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris is hosting a virtual town hall on October 11 at 6 p.m.

The event will take place over Zoom and all are welcome to attend.

The meeting information is below:

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81023567099…

Meeting ID: 810 2356 7099

Passcode: 295701

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Meeting ID: 810 2356 7099

Passcode: 295701

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/ku2RPULFG

Incumbents only qualify for city council and mayoral races

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emergency declaration qualifying election

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Only the incumbents qualified for the 2021 Blairsville municipal elections, so the three will retain their seats come November.

Councilmembers Robert “Buddy Moore” and Tony Dyer and Mayor Jim Conley will serve another four-year term from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2025.

Conley’s served as Blairsville’s Mayor since 2006. He previously served on the city council between 1996-2001 and 2004-2005. Moore was appointed to the council to serve an unexpired term in March 2009 and then was elected to the role in 2010. Dyer was elected to the council in 2010.

The countywide special election for the TSPLOST referendum will take place on November 2, 2021. Citizens will decide if they’re in favor of adding a one-cent sales tax for roads, bridges, and infrastructure. It would cut down on property taxes – a sore spot for many in Union County after a 17 percent tax increase last year and property reassessments in 2021.

If passed, the city would receive 8.5 percent of the taxes collected so approximately $500,000 each year.

The voter registration deadline for the special election is October 4 and advanced voting will begin on October 12.

Special election for TSPLOST referendum proceeds forward

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TSPLOST

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – TSPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales and Use Tax) will appear on the ballot this November.

At the August County Meeting, Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris approved Resolution (R-2021-09) requesting the calling of an election to impose one percent TSPLOST within Union County.

TSPLOST would raise the total sales tax from 7 to 8 cents on the dollar. The state allows a county up to 9 cents in sales taxes. The state levies the first 4 cents.

The election will take place on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

“This is very important to our community and for the purpose of improving the safety and infrastructure of our highway, signs and roads but also, necessary to help further reduce of property taxes of our Union County Citizens. We already anticipate our millage rate will be reduced because of the countywide revaluation. In addition, should our TSPLOST election be successful and be passed in November, we estimate our property taxes could be further reduced $1 million,” Paris explained.

The savings would come from “the shift” from the general fund that “will be exchanged through the TSPLOST program federal and equipment fund that is now funded through property taxes.”

TSPLOST, along with SPLOST, ESPLOST, and LOST is a one percent sales tax on purchases within a designated county. However, TSPLOST applies solely to transportation-related projects, such as

  • ‘Transportation purposes’ includes roads, bridges, public transit, rails, airports, buses, and all accompanying infrastructure and services necessary to provide access to these facilities.
  • Roads, streets, sidewalks, bicycle paths, and bridge purposes such as:
  • acquisition of rights of way;
  • construction;
  • renovation and improvement, including resurfacing;
  • relocation of utilities;
  • improvement of surface-water drainage; and/or
  • patching, leveling, milling, widening, shoulder preparation, culvert repair, and other repairs necessary for their preservation.
  • Stormwater and drainage capital outlay projects, in conjunction with transportation projects

At a called meeting on August 20, Paris approved the intergovernmental agreement with the city of Blairsville concerning TSPLOST. If passed, Blairsville will receive 8.5 percent of the transportation tax collections. It’s estimated the city of Blairsville will receive $500,000 each year from TSPLOST.

Copy of ACCG map indicating counties and areas in Georgia with a transportation tax.

The closest county to Union with TSPLOST is Lumpkin. Gilmer recently put TSPLOST on the ballot and it failed. Here’s a copy of Georgia’s Sales and Use Tax Rate Chart.

Since sales taxes are consumption-based and everyone who makes a purchase within the county contributes.

Blairsville City Council approves agreement with county to receive TSPLOST funds

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TSPLOST

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Blairsville City Council approved the intergovernmental agreement with Union County for the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) referendum during the July 2021 meeting.

The approval is one in a series of steps necessary for TSPLOST to appear on a special election ballot in November 2021.

The intergovernmental agreement allows Blairsville to receive a portion of proceeds from a one percent sales tax. TSPLOST would raise the total sales tax from 7 to 8 cents on the dollar. The state allows a county up to 9 cents in sales taxes. The state levies the first 4 cents.

The intergovernmental agreement would last for five years and is contingent on voters approving TPLOST in the fall. Measures such as LOST, SPLOST, ESPLOST, and TSPLOST must be approved by registered voters in Union County.

2021 is an off-year for county elections, but the county could call a special election just for TSPLOST. Municipal elections for Blairsville are being held this year.

As the name implies, TSPLOST funds go solely toward transportation projects, unlike SPLOST which covers most capital outlay efforts for a county and city. TSPLOST must meet a transportation need outside of regular SPLOST or free up SPLOST funds for other projects.

With the intergovernmental agreement in place, the county could levy a fractional rate of up to 1 percent. If Blairsville hadn’t passed the agreement, then the levy amount would stop at .75 percent.

If passed, TSPLOST could generate up to $5 million a year and the city of Blairsville would receive between five or eight percent of those funds.

The closest county to Union with TSPLOST is Lumpkin. Gilmer recently put TSPLOST on the ballot and it failed. Here’s a copy of Georgia’s Sales and Use Tax Rate Chart.

Sales taxes, such as LOST, SPLOST, ESPLOST, and TSPLOST, are meant to alleviate the tax burden on local property owners. Since sales taxes are consumption-based and everyone who makes a purchase within the county contributes. In communities like Union County, weekends often see an influx of tourists looking to escape for the weekend. For the last few years, sales tax-related revenue has continued to increase for Union County at a rate higher than expected.

Copy of ACCG map indicating TSPLOST counties and areas in Georgia.

Property owners in Union County experienced a tax increase of 17 percent last year, and they just received property revaluation notices from the tax commissioner’s office. Several experienced significant property value increases.

Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris remarked throughout last year’s tax increase process that the new property evaluations would result in the millage rate dropping this year. As a result, property owners should see their tax burden decrease.

Those wanting to lower their property values can make a case to the tax assessor’s office, but it doesn’t guarantee values will go down. Property owners have 45 days to appeal.

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