Does not look like Grady voters will decide on TSPLOST?this fall

It appears the Grady County Commission has dropped the ball on calling for a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum for this year.
Facing an Aug. 8 deadline to call for a TSPLOST referendum to be placed on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, county officials put forward a proposed intergovernmental agreement for the cities of Cairo and Whigham to approve.
The Cairo City Council took up the issue Monday night, but based on a reference guide published by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, city officials say there is not time to comply with the law and stage the election this fall.
Based on the ACCG publication that was circulated among the city council this week, the law requires a formal meeting be called by the county commission to discuss possible projects to be included in the referendum and the rate of tax. The notice of the meeting is required to be sent to each qualifying city at least 10 days prior to the meeting date.
“I don’t think that has been done,” Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton told the Cairo City Council Monday night.
The law also requires that the formal meeting is held at least 30 days prior to the calling of a referendum.
“That’s 40 days and its already July 23 so, in my opinion, they don’t have time to call for a TSPLOST resolution this year. We have the city attorney here and we can ask him,” Addleton said.
“It’s pretty well cut out what you have to do,” Councilman Jerry Cox said.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas said the first he had heard of putting a TSPLOST referendum on the November ballot was during an Archway retreat last week.
“We haven’t created a list of projects to be paid for with TSPLOST. I guess we could do that in a work session and have a called meeting, but it looks to me like we can’t meet the deadlines in the law,” Douglas said.
Councilman Cox noted that Whigham officials had indicated at last week’s Archway retreat that the city council there does not even meet again until after the Aug. 8 deadline.
“We’re talking about 40 days. We are not even close. Today is July 23,” Lehman said.
Councilman Douglas said that unless the county attorney could provide information to show that the issue could be resolved in time for the Aug. 8 deadline to call for a referendum the matter was moot, at least temporarily.
“I guess we will sit back and wait to hear from the city and county attorney,” Councilman Cox said.
When contacted late Tuesday afternoon, Grady County Commission Chairman Ray Prince said he was unaware of any requirements the county had failed to meet.
After contacting County Clerk Carrie Croy to discuss the situation, Prince said that the fall was probably not the best time to put the measure on the ballot anyway.
“We need to put our heads together and get this all worked out and look to do it next spring,” Chairman Prince said.
The only dates a TSPLOST referendum could be held next year are March 19 or Nov. 5.
County, Cairo, and Whigham officials are also planning to ask voters next year to renew the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Chairman Prince said both tax votes could be on the same ballot or local officials could decide to split them up.
A TSPLOST can only be used for transportation projects, and Grady County officials were interested in using the proceeds of the TSPLOST to fund repairs, resurfacing and paving of Open Pond Road, Long Branch Road and Borden Road with the county’s 59.7 percent share of the tax collections.
Based on the proposed intergovernmental agreement presented to Cairo and Whigham last Thursday afternoon, Whigham would receive 1.9 percent of the collections and Cairo would receive 38.4 percent.
According to ACCG, other counties that currently have a single county TSPLOST in this area are Colquitt, Decatur, Early, and Seminole.

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