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Growing Money

County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST)

FAQ Topics

What is SPLOST?

Per State of Georgia Legislation, a Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is an optional one percent county sales tax used to fund capital outlay projects proposed by the county government and participating qualified municipal governments. County and municipal governments may not use SPLOST proceeds for operating expenses or maintenance of a SPLOST project or any other county or municipal facility or service. For more information, read the SPLOST Guide.

What are some examples of current Cobb County SPLOST Projects?
  • Repair and replacement of roadway drainage systems throughout Cobb County
  • Repair and rehabilitation of various bridges in Cobb County
  • Construction of additional sidewalks
  • Replacement of Police Headquarters
  • Addition of police precinct in northeast Cobb

See a list of projects approved in the 2016 SPLOST Referendum.

Can SPLOST Funds be used to reduce Property Taxes?

Although counties cannot directly include a property tax rollback as an eligible expenditure on the referendum, counties can use SPLOST funds to pay for capital outlay projects that would otherwise be funded through property tax revenues.  Also, if excess proceeds remain after SPLOST projects have been completed and there is no county debt, the excess proceeds must go to the general fund of the county to reduce county property taxes. For more information on the Disposition of Excess Funds, please see the SPLOST Guide.

Can a County or municipality change its mind and not fund one or more of the SPLOST projects despite voter approval in a referendum?

No. The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that the governing authority is obliged to use proceeds from the SPLOST for the projects approved in the SPLOST referendum. The court held that the governing authority “... is bound by the SPLOST budget and accounts report to complete all projects listed therein unless circumstances arise which dictate that projects which initially seemed feasible are no longer so. In this regard, the governing authority has discretion to make adjustments in the plans for these projects, but may not abandon the projects altogether.”

In the same case, the court recognized that the county could not use SPLOST funds for a project that had not been approved by the voters, noting that under O.C.G.A § 48-8-121(a) proceeds from the SPLOST “... shall be used exclusively for the purpose or purposes specified in the resolution or ordinance calling for imposition of the tax.”

While the court has recognized that counties retain discretion to alter SPLOST projects, no such alterations may contravene the terms of the referendum.

Can excess SPLOST funds be used to pay off revenue bonds that are outstanding at the time of the SPLOST referendum?

No. While SPLOST proceeds can be used to retire existing general obligation debt, the proceeds cannot be used to pay off existing revenue bonds. However, counties may issue revenue bonds after the referendum is approved to provide funds to get projects initiated before all revenues are collected.

How do 2nd Tier projects that were included in the SPLOST Referendum become funded?

If excess SPLOST funds are collected and all referendum approved Tier 1 projects have been funded, then projects from the referendum approved Tier 2 list as prioritized by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners may be selected for implementation.  Referendum Tier 2 projects would need to be completed before any collected funds would be considered truly Excess Funds.