Six cities get extensions on spending SPLOST proceeds

LAWRENCEVILLE - Six cities got extensions on spending proceeds from a sales tax program that ended four years ago.

Before a state law mandated a sharing structure, county officials allocated just over $20 million for cities to use for parks and transportation projects in the 2001 special purpose local option sales tax program, which ended in 2005.

While the county has spent all but about 0.5 percent of its revenues, the agreement with cities stipulated the money would be returned to the county if not spent by July of this year.

Nine of Gwinnett's municipalities have finished projects under the program, but officials allowed extensions for Auburn, Braselton, Dacula, Duluth, Norcross and Rest Haven.

Braselton has the highest percentage of funds left to spend, or about 73.56 percent of its share. The majority of that is nearly $200,000 for a park.

Town Manager Jennifer Dees said officials are looking for parkland to purchase within Gwinnett, as the town is divided among four counties.

"We haven't found a location for a park yet," she said, but added she was pleased with the extension. "I'm glad we're getting the opportunity to spend it the way the voters approved it."

According to information from Gwinnett Finance Director Aaron Bovos, Auburn, Dacula and Duluth officials have less than 5 percent of their allocation left to spend, while Norcross has 19 percent left and Rest Haven has spent less than half of its share.

Among county projects, $25 million in transportation funding has yet to be spent, along with $1.3 million for police projects, $1.7 million for fire projects and about $16,000 for the department of community services.