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SPLOST: Building a Better Place

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Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners

Today, I’m thinking about all the wonderful aspects of Gwinnett County that were made possible by a series of special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) programs. Since 1985, one penny of the sales tax on most retail sales in Gwinnett has been used to pay for capital improvements throughout our 437 square miles.

When I step back and take the long view, I see amazing progress that could not have happened otherwise. By allowing us to pay as we go, SPLOST collections have saved us more than a billion dollars in financing costs. The results range from major landmarks that we all take for granted to something as simple as a left turn lane that keeps traffic flowing.

The first SPLOST program raised $66 million in two years to build the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, which is now due for an expansion of the courtroom facilities using funds from a later SPLOST program.

The second covered the years 1988 through 1992 and raised $163 million. It built the Civic Center (now the Infinite Energy Center), the jail also known as the Pre-Trial Detention Center, parts of Ronald Reagan and Sugarloaf Parkways, sections of Lawrenceville Suwanee Road, and renovations to the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse.

As Gwinnett’s population boomed, the third SPLOST raised $249 million between 1992 and 1996. This program was dedicated to roads, streets, and bridges including Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Sugarloaf Parkway, Riverside Parkway, Pleasant Hill Road, and Annistown Road.

For the 1997 SPLOST, we added public safety and parks project categories. That program took in $415 million over four years and gave us widening projects along Satellite Boulevard, State Route 324, Steve Reynolds Boulevard, and Club Drive along with hundreds of other transportation improvements. It also funded seven fire stations, five police precincts, 10 renovated parks, and hundreds of acres preserved
as greenspace.

Transportation, parks, public safety, libraries, and city governments have all shared in successive 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2014 programs. The current 2014 program runs until 2017 and also includes senior facilities and a school emergency notification system upgrade that will connect every public school in Gwinnett County directly to the 911 center.

SPLOST improvements are now woven into the fabric that is our quality of life in Gwinnett County—roads… parks… libraries… public safety… all of the things that make us the envy of most counties in America. You can see a sampling of sales tax projects built over the years in a new video in the on-demand video section of the County’s website, www.gwinnettcounty.com.

I’m proud to have played a small part along with many others over the years to manage those pennies and spend them as promised. But the real credit goes to the voters of Gwinnett who appreciate the value of paying for capital improvements one penny at a time. What would our lives be like today if we hadn’t
had SPLOST?