The SPLOST Advisory Committee had its first meeting on Aug. 15, a little over three months ago.
The 16-member group was tasked with vetting projects for a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that may be presented on a future ballot to benefit Whitfield County and the cities of Cohutta, Dalton, Tunnel Hill and Varnell.
Since that initial meeting, the group has met every week at various spots in the county. Members have listened to project presentations from local government officials and the public. Along the way, committee members have spent countless hours researching those proposals. They've spent much time outside of those meetings doing their homework. Additionally, members have listened to suggestions from residents of the county and the cities.
The county formed the SPLOST Advisory Committee late this summer after voters turned down a proposed six-year, $100 million SPLOST in March. The most recent SPLOST for the county expired on June 30. A SPLOST is a 1% tax on most goods sold in the county. The revenues can be used for certain types of projects but they can not be used for general operating expenses.
Now, the committee's work is nearing completion. The full SPLOST Advisory Committee has no more meetings scheduled. However, several members will continue working on a letter to the local governments explaining how they arrived at their suggested projects, along with their recommendations.
The committee's findings are non-binding, meaning local elected officials will decide what projects are placed on the ballot.
The committee members faced a difficult assignment. Due to time constraints, they aimed to have the project list narrowed down by November. They accomplished that mission.
We applaud the diligent work committee members have done since that first August meeting. They've proven to be an engaged group, not afraid to ask tough questions of government employees or our elected officials. These volunteers deserve our gratitude. They donated much of their time to see our community improved.
The committee is expected to present its recommendations to the Dalton City Council on Monday, Dec. 2, and to the county Board of Commissioners on the following Monday, Dec. 9. We are anxious to see the committee's final report, as well as our local elected officials' reaction to it.