published Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Georgia voters back SPLOST in Catoosa, Chattooga Counties

SPLOST results

Catoosa County

Yes 1,193

No 442

Chattooga County

Yes 656

No 257

Elected officials are breathing sighs of relief in Georgia's Catoosa and Chattooga counties since voters on Tuesday approved a tax of 1 cent per $1 of sales to fund a laundry list of projects.

Catoosa's special purpose local option sales tax passed with 73 percent of voters supporting it.

"People have said, 'If we're going to have to pay for things, we like doing it this way,'" Catoosa County Manager Mike Helton said.

The Catoosa County SPLOST will fund about $60 million in projects, ranging from $2.2 million in renovations to the historic county courthouse to 68 new sheriff's office patrol cars over the tax's five-year period -- or almost 14 cruisers per year.

Despite the large dollar amount involved, voter turnout in Catoosa was light.

A total of 1,635 votes were cast from among Catoosa County's 41,806 registered voters -- a turnout of just under 4 percent.

In Chattooga County, voters approved their SPLOST by a 72 percent margin.

The special purpose local option sales tax will generate about $14 million over six years.

"Traditionally, we've always passed those here," Sole County Commissioner Jason Winters said of the tax.

The Chattooga SPLOST funding will be used for such things as renovating the historic courthouse in downtown Summerville, installing new bathrooms at ballfields in Lyerly and spending about $1 million per year on various road and bridge repairs.

The Chattooga sales tax will run from 2014 to 2020.

Catoosa County's new tax will begin in July 2014, when the current SPLOST expires, and will last until 2019.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township┬╣s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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