County officials call for sales tax referendum

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County Commission and the county's Board of Elections and Registrars have officially set a special election for Nov. 2 to allow voters to decide whether to renew a 1 percent sales tax initiative.

In two separate votes Monday, the two government bodies set the election for the date of the November general election.

Last month, both the Albany City Commission and the county finalized their respective lists of projects to be funded using the 1 percent sales tax revenues. The sales tax is expected to generate $98 million over the next six years.

According to the resolution adopted Monday, the funds generated will be used to build, maintain and upgrade a variety of capital projects ranging from improvements and repairs to the Dougherty County Library to upgrading the joint city-county 911 communications center.

It also contains language that would allow the city to float up to $30 million in general obligation bonds to fund projects up-front. Sales tax collections won't begin until April 1, 2011 should the referendum pass.

But according to city officials, they have no current plans to float any bonds because of the time frame that comes with the financing.

"I suspect that we will do like we did last time and just not do it," Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said. "You have to have projects lined up and ready to go because you have to have 90 percent of that (the bond) spent within the first three years."

Smith said the city did ultimately issue $15 million in bonds for projects but that it did so later in the SPLOST period.

The resolution says if a bond is passed, the revenues from sales taxes must go to pay the bond off first before it can be used for any other purpose.