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Forsyth County, Cumming strike deal for sales tax vote

Referendum will decide transportation funding

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Local voters will decide this fall whether to approve a $250 million Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST), that would fund transportation projects throughout Forsyth County and the city of Cumming.

An intergovernmental agreement between the county and city was approved last week, sending the 2022 TSPLOST referendum to the Forsyth County Board of Elections and calling for a vote on Nov. 8.

The agreement, which decides how TSPLOST proceeds will be divided between the city and county, allocates 92.3 percent of the $250 million projected collections to Forsyth County, $230.9 million.

Cumming is projected to receive $19.1 million, or 7.6 percent of the tax proceeds.

At a joint meeting of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and Cumming City Council, Cumming City Manager Phill Higgins said city officials were pleased by how the 2022 TSPLOST IGA negotiations had gone, commenting on how vital they believe the tax is to the community.

“We appreciate the opportunity to be part of the process with Forsyth County on this,” Higgins said. “We recognize that TSPLOST is a great way to fund these road projects that are so desperately needed in our community.”

As part of the IGA and TSPLOST referendum, officials have also announced the projects that would be funded with the $250 million tax.

Forsyth County would use $173.2 million for capital projects to offset congestion and “critical” new roadway connection, $27.7 million for multi-use trails and sidewalks, $20.7 million for intersection safety improvements, $4.6 million for existing roadway resurfacing and improvements, and $4.6 million for the Forsyth Quick Response Program, which will approach roadway problems that can implemented quickly.

After the meeting, District 2 Commissioner Alfred John said that proposed county projects would have a tremendous impact on the community for years to come.

“Those projects are vital, and it needs a funding source,” John said.

Cumming has proposed three projects with its share, including $13.6 million for the Cumming Bypass Phase 1 and 2, $5 million to construct an additional lane on Ga. 20 from Samaritan Drive to Castleberry Road, and $500,000 for roadway resurfacing and maintenance.

In an email to Appen Media, Cumming City Councilman Christopher Light said city officials believe the TSPLOST is a good alternative to funding projects through property tax increases.

“On TSPLOST, for me it's simple,” Light said. “But at the end of the day we just are putting it up to the voters to decide, which is the best way to determine where their money goes.”

If approved by voters in November, the 2022 TSPLOST will run for a 5-year term, starting on April 1, 2023.

At the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners Work Session on July 26, County Manager Kevin Tanner said the Forsyth County Board of Elections is expected to hear the referendum at a meeting on Aug. 2.

Commissioners later approved the IGA in a 4-0 vote, with District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper attending virtually and District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent absent.

City council members approved the IGA at a special called meeting on July 25 in a 4-0 vote, with Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow absent.

Reach Alexander Popp at 770-847-7404. Follow him on Twitter @Popp2Alex.