Eight Georgia counties to decide this fall on transportation tax

October 31, 2022

Keith Goble

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Ballots in counties throughout Georgia next week will include questions about whether to authorize or renew local taxes that benefit transportation work.

Nov. 8 ballots in counties across the state will ask voters whether to approve a 1% tax that would be used solely for local infrastructure.

Questions in at least eight counties would authorize funding from the transportation local option sales tax. The state created the tax option six years ago for purposes that include roads, bridges, public transit, and seaports.

According to the Georgia Department of Revenue, 102 of the state’s 159 counties have enacted the transportation sales tax.

One year ago, voters in four Georgia counties voted to approve or renew the 1% tax.

Below is a rundown of counties that will have transportation funding questions on their fall ballot.

Bulloch County

Ballots in Bulloch County include a question about whether to renew the penny sales tax for five more years.

The local transportation sales tax has been in place since 2018. A revenue cap of $60 million was placed on tax collection.

Fuel sales are exempt from the sales tax.

Without renewal from voters, the tax would sunset by September 2023.

Extending the tax until 2028 would raise an estimated $72 million. There would be no revenue cap on the extension.

The county would collect 51.3% of the tax revenue. The county’s four municipalities would get the rest, with the city of Statesboro receiving the largest portion – 43%.

Chatham County

Voters in Chatham County will soon decide whether to implement the penny sales tax for transportation-based projects.

The east Georgia county now collects a 7% sales tax. The county consists of eight municipalities, including the city of Savannah

The transportation sales tax is estimated to raise $143 million for the city of Savannah. The biggest portion, $42 million, would be applied to easing roadway congestion in the state’s fifth most populous city.

Another $20 million would be allocated for local roadway resurfacing and maintenance projects. Projects focused on traffic calming improvement and expansion would get $7.5 million, and a bridge repair program would receive $3 million.

Countywide, the 1% transportation sales tax is estimated to raise $420 million over five years.

Forsyth County

The ballot in Forsyth County will include a referendum to cover improvements to local infrastructure.

The five-year, 1% transportation sales tax is estimated to raise $250 million. Money would be distributed among the county and the city of Cumming under a predetermined formula to address approved project lists.

The Atlanta-area county now collects a 7% sales tax.

Most of the new tax revenue – 69% – would stay with the county. Most of the money, $173.2 million, would be used for capital projects to address congestion and “critical” new roadway connection. Another $20 million would be applied for intersection safety improvements. Additionally, $4.6 million would be used for roadway resurfacing and improvements.

Habersham County

Citizens in Habersham County will vote whether to implement a 1% transportation sales tax for local infrastructure. The county now collects a 7% sales tax.

In 2018, voters rejected the proposed tax by a 54-46% margin. Hopeful there is enough support for passage this time around, county commissioners recently voted to add a question to the upcoming fall ballot to impose the penny tax.

The tax is estimated to generate $44 million over five years. The bulk of the revenue – $33.4 million – would go to the northeast Georgia county.

About $10 million would be allocated for existing bridge repair and replacement in the county. Another $3.4 million would be used for roadway projects. Additionally, $800,000 would be earmarked for safety improvements, re-striping, guardrails, and signs.

The remainder would go to the county’s five cities.

Lumpkin County

The ballot in Lumpkin County will include a question about whether to extend collection of the 1% local transportation sales tax.

Originally approved by voters in 2019, the tax is scheduled to expire early next year.

The 3-year-old tax was limited to collecting $15 million over five years, or until the maximum amount is reached.

The county board of commissioners said that sales tax revenue raised via internet sales has resulted in the locale reaching the cap sooner than expected.

As a result, voters will be asked to extend tax collection for up to five years. The revenue cap would be set at $20 million.

Morgan County

Voters in Morgan County will decide whether to renew the tax to cover improvements to local infrastructure.

The county located south of Athens has collected the 1% transportation tax since 2019. The current tax will expire when $18 million in revenue is raised. To date, the county has collected $14.5 million.

Once the threshold is reached, voter approval would permit the transportation sales tax to be extended.

The tax renewal is estimated to raise $25 million over five years.

Oconee County

Ballots in Oconee County will again include a question to add 1% to the existing 7% sales tax for transportation work.

In 2021, voters in the county that borders the city of Athens rejected the tax.

The new revenue would raise about $71 million over five years.

About two-thirds of that amount would go toward county roads. The cities of Bishop, North High Shoals and Watkinsville would divvy the rest.

Seminole County

One question on the Seminole County ballot will ask voters whether to renew the penny tax for transportation.

The southwest Georgia county on the border with Alabama and Florida collects an 8% sales tax. Without renewal, the tax collected would dip to 7%. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Georgia is available.

 

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.