Are you ready for the next round of SPLOST? Well, ready or not, here it comes. The cities are starting to get their ducks in a row. Forget about the fact that Gainesville is suing the County, or the fact that T-SPLOST was hammered in an election last year, the cities look to be positioning for a run at a SPLOST VII.
Case in point, the City of Gainesville has commissioned a study to justify a new convention center. Do you think they have the money for a new convention center? I would say that without another SPLOST, it won’t happen. But if they can show you a study that shows the economic impact or all the great acts we are missing, the public will forget the legal issues and vote in another penny for 5 to 6 years.
Gainesville isn’t the only one studying; while you were sleeping, Flowery Branch decided to spend $95,000 to update their “master redevelopment plan”. Now, I’ve got to think that someone that works for the city could probably open up a Word document and update the plan, so the question to ask: what does $95k get you? I would say that it gets you an “independent” group justifying the need for more SPLOST money to do whatever the plan calls for.
However, the groundwork for the next SPLOST will have ties to the current LOST negotiations that are headed to court. This SPLOST is a 6 year tax that will end in June of 2015. This was a 6-year tax because there was an intergovernmental agreement. Somehow, I don’t see the county and cities agreeing for the next one. If there is no agreement, the tax will be split based on population which makes the City of Gainesville a big loser. Since the county only has to agree with the cities that make up 50% of the municipal population and Gainesville has over 50% of the municipal population, there could be a SPLOST that freezes out the rest of the cities for 6 years.
I would anticipate that this will be another special election vote and this is where it can get interesting. If a SPLOST vote fails, the county can’t hold another vote for 12 months. So will the county try and get two shots at passing the vote? If they target March 2015 for the SPLOST vote and it fails, then they will lose out on the tax for close to a year, but if they target the vote for 2014 and it fails, then they get another shot before the tax expires. There might be a conspiracy to try and cram the vote in next year and if so, they will be freshly armed with studies to say why we need it so bad.