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Imker decries sales tax failure at polls

Peachtree City Councilman Eric Imker decried the loss of a sales tax vote that would have put a 1 percent levy in effect for two years and provided $14.2 million to pay for road and cart path repairs in the city.

At Thursday’s council meeting, Imker pointed out that the tax only passed one of the city’s 12 precincts, and if failed countywide with 57 percent of voters saying no to the sales tax.

The sales tax would have provided the city with more money over a two-year period than it got in the previous countywide sales tax that stretched for five years, Imker said, calling it a “great deal” from the county.

Imker said his calculations were that the SPLOST would be cheaper for property owners in the city and at the same time would provide a much larger pot of money than other options including raising the millage rate, seeking voter approval for a general obligation bond or using other financing options.

Imker had estimated that each household would pay $350 per year toward the sales tax. But if you apply that figure in property taxes, it will only raise $6.8 million over the two-year period instead of $14.5 million, he said.

“To me that’s a real disappointment,” Imker said, noting that the city council will have to determine how to fund the $1.5 million a year needed to repair city roads and cart paths.

Imker said he didn’t foresee council making more budget cuts to raise the $1.5 million, though he added a caveat that he couldn’t speak for the two new council members who will take office in January.

“The message I want to send citizens is a positive one: we are going to find a way to fund this,” Imker said.

The city has not fully exhausted its funds from the 2004 countywide transportation sales tax and will have $465,000 left for next year, some $300,000 of which will be spent on cart paths with the remainder spent on repairing roads, Imker pointed out. City officials have previously said that the repaving of Crosstown Road would exhaust the city’s leftover funding from that sales tax, but Imker said the overage he spoke of was calculated by including the Crosstown project funding.

“I am positive we will come up with the right solution and we can go on from there,” Imker said.

Imker noted that he did not advocate for passage of the sales tax, but he did put facts out there showing it was advantageous to Peachtree City residents.

The county got the ball rolling on sales tax discussions earlier this year and would have used its proceeds for stormwater repairs and upgrades in the unincorporated county. Commissioners had pledged to halt collection of a new stormwater fee on unincorporated property owners for four years if the tax would have been approved.

Since it was shot down at the polls, the county will continue collecting the stormwater fees and will pare its list of projects down from $16.8 million to $5 million and attack that list with proceeds from bond funding backed by revenue from the stormwater utility.

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