Murray County voters gave a big thumbs up to a sales tax that will fund resurfacing of the county's streets and roads Tuesday night.
Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan said the final vote for the five-year Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) was 720 votes (60.2%) in favor to 476 votes (39.8%) against. The TSPLOST is a 1% tax on most goods sold in the county.
"It's going to make a big difference in what we are able to do," Hogan said. "I appreciate everyone who came out to vote. It was a bigger turnout than I thought it would be."
Murray County has 448 miles of road, and Hogan said the county needs to repave about 50 miles of roads each year just to keep them maintained, and probably more like 60 to catch up on a backlog of work.
"We currently only pave about 10 miles of roads a year, maybe 12," he said.
Hogan said the TSPLOST will allow the county to repave about half of its roads during the five-year life of the tax.
The tax will begin on April 1, 2020. Hogan said he expects the tax will bring in about $23.5 million.
"We will start putting that money to our roads as soon as we start getting the money," he said. "There will be so much paving, we won't be able to do it all. We will have to contract that out. We've got a very good working relationship with both cities (Chatsworth and Eton), and I hope that we can take what they want to pave and what we want to pave and bid it all out at one time."
Chatsworth and Eton will receive a share of the tax based on their percentage of total road and street miles in the county. Chatsworth will receive about 8% of the tax funds and Eton will receive about 2%.
Under the state law authorizing county TSPLOSTs, the county must have a regular SPLOST in place before a TSPLOST referendum can be placed on the ballot.
Murray County currently has a six-year SPLOST in place that will expire in December 2024. Among the major projects that SPLOST is funding are the construction of three new fire stations and improvements to existing fire stations, additional fire hydrants, updates to public safety communications technology and upgrades to emergency management equipment, facilities and technology.
The TSPLOST will take Murray County's total sales tax rate up to 8% (including state sales tax, the Local Option Sales Tax that helps pay for local governments' operating budgets, the SPLOST, an Education SPLOST and the TSPLOST).