An audio version of this story.
DeKalb County commissioners are expected to schedule a November referendum Tuesday for a special-purpose local-option sales tax, or SPLOST, more than 60 percent of which would be for transportation projects.
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DeKalb County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw said county voters tell him they want potholes fixed and roads resurfaced as soon as possible.
“People have been clamoring for our roads to get fixed for quite a while. This would afford us the funding source to do that,” Bradshaw said. “Some of the roads they drive are like obstacle courses.”
If voters approve the tax on the Nov. 7 ballot, DeKalb county’s total sales tax would increase from 7 to 8 percent.
It’s expected to collect $388 million over six years and nearly 39 percent of the revenue would pay for road resurfacing. Road projects would be prioritized based on the most to least critical as ranked by a list maintained by the county’s roads and drainage division of its Public Works department.
DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester said she’s not sure how she’ll vote on it personally. She said she understands the urgent need for road repairs and is grateful it would not impact property taxes, but she said she’s worried a 1 percent increase could be too much.
“When you compare it to neighbors near us that have 6 percent, it starts to be a real difference,” Jester said. “Will this choke off business development? Will it be a drain on our economy?”
Besides repaving, the project list also includes renovating parks, libraries, fire stations, senior centers, health centers, and buying more police cars. The tax would not apply to food, drug and medicine purchases.
A comprehensive and detailed list of road maintenance projects is expected to be made public after Nov. 7.