Cherokee is one of only four of the 159 counties in Georgia with a 6% sales tax. Every other county has a higher tax rate.
Where do those six pennies go? Four percent goes directly to the State of Georgia's general fund and are implemented automatically under state law. The remaining 2% was previously put in place by Cherokee County voters and must be renewed on a regular basis. Of that 2%, 1% goes toward E-SPLOST, which raises funds for capital investment in the Cherokee County School District to build schools, buy buses, and keep the District's infrastructure up to speed with our rapidly growing county. The other 1% goes toward SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), which is split between the county government and our cities to fund road investment, public safety, parks, and other infrastructure.
This November, Cherokee County voters face the important decision of whether to renew the SPLOST for another six years, as it's currently set to expire in 2024. Prior to the ballot decision, county and city leaders have met extensively to negotiate how and where the funds would be invested. The City of Woodstock has published its next SPLOST cycle priorities and, if voters renew the measure, we anticipate the City would receive $49.5 million over the six years, which would be invested as follows:
- Public Safety (police and fire) $7.4 million
- Public Works (transportation and infrastructure) $30 million
- Parks and Recreation $9.4 million
- Communications and Technology $685,000
- Parking and Transportation Improvements $700,000
- Business, Economic Development, Land Acquisition, Infrastructure, and Facilities $1.1 million
Also, there are several joint transportation projects that the county has agreed to fund in Woodstock out of its portion of the collections, and the entire county will benefit from an expansion of the Cherokee County Justice Center. Cherokee has doubled in population since the facility was built nearly 30 years ago, and the needs of our justice system have increased as well.
The lion's share of our city's SPLOST investments is being made in transportation and public safety, which along with fiscal responsibility and a vibrant community, reflects Woodstock's priorities. As most of these priorities are expenses that the City must make whether SPLOST is renewed or not, SPLOST functions as a significant offset for our property taxes. It is also spread across sales made to residents of our county and visitors alike, which further lowers the tax burden on citizens of Woodstock. Were it not to be renewed, the result would likely be large property tax increases to replace the funds for these essential priorities. The decision is solely up to voters.
Now that you know where these funds would be invested, be sure to mark your calendars to make your voice heard on November 8 by casting your vote. The Great American Experiment relies on your participation, and this year's election cycle is important for many reasons, the SPLOST decision being just one of them.
As always, it is an honor to serve as your mayor. If you have any questions or thoughts about SPLOST or any other issues here in our great city, please don't hesitate to reach out.