DeKalb County voters appear to have approved a one-cent sales tax increase, from 7 to 8 percent, according to early ballot numbers from the Nov. 7 election.
With 165 of 197 precincts reporting, the special local option sales tax, or SPLOST, showed more than 34,000 people voting in favor, for nearly 70 percent of the vote, and about 15,000 voting no, or about 30 percent, according to unofficial election results from DeKalb County.
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond issued a press release about 10 p.m. calling calling victory for the special local option sales tax that will bring millions of dollars to DeKalb and the 12 cities located in the county. The sales tax increases goes into effect April 2018.
“For the first time in DeKalb County’s history, voters have approved a blueprint for success with the passage of the SPLOST,” Thurmond said in the statement. “We take this vote of trust seriously and will continue to work with our city partners on a better future.”
With the apparent approval of the SPLOST, DeKalb County will receive about $60 million a year over six years, with a major chunk of that going toward transportation projects. The SPLOST approval also means the city of Brookhaven will receive $47 million over six years and the city of Dunwoody would receive about $42 million over six years.
While there are no specific project lists outlined either by the county of the cities on what they will spend SPLOST revenues if the referendum is approved, the legislation limits how the money can be spent to just a few categories: transportation and infrastructure, public safety and up to 15 percent for capital project repairs.
For DeKalb, the tax increase will also fund new fire stations and police cars as well as the renovation of parks, libraries, senior centers and health centers.
DeKalb voters also appear to have approved two other ballot other measures: an EHOST, or equalization homestead option sales tax, and to freeze home property values for city and county taxes permanently while the EHOST and SPLOST are in place. The EHOST and SPLOST both have to pass for them to be enacted.
With the SPLOST and EHOST approval, more than $110 million will go toward residential property tax relief over the six years the SPLOST is in effect, according to Thurmond.
State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), who wrote the SPLOST legislation with Thurmond, noted that before the SPLOST, the county was receiving about $2 million a year for infrastructure, such as paving.
Unprepared food, or groceries, and pharmaceuticals are exempt from the sales tax increase.