LAWRENCEVILLE -- With just two months left in 2012, county leaders have officially closed out a sales tax program that dates back to 2001.
The move earlier this month is mostly administrative, with the vast majority of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds spent years ago, Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said.
"The fund was not closed previously in order to ensure that all the administrative items were completed -- that contracts were closed out properly, that the required audit was performed with satisfactory results and that the county's obligations were fully met, including a final report to the Citizens Project Selection Committee," Nash said.
"In my opinion, maintaining a separate fund until everything on the checklist was completed should be seen as a plus since it demonstrates our commitment to accountability for the funds that the voters entrusted to the county," she added. "The formal approval to close the fund was our public announcement that not only are the projects complete but that accounting for the funds is complete as well."
Of the $496.1 million collected between April 1, 2001 and March 31, 2005, the final purchases came in 2011: $1.5 million for the tactical shoot house and about $2.4 million in various transportation completions.
The program built $59.5 million in public safety facilities, including the police training center and six fire stations, more than $200 million in parks projects, including the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, and three libraries -- one each in Dacula, Suwanee and Grayson. More than $200 million went to roads, sidewalks, bridges and other improvements, including and extension to McGinnis Ferry Road and the first portion of funding for the Sugarloaf Parkway extension now nearly complete.
About $1.46 million left over was transferred to the 2009 program.
"The formal process for closing the fund involves administrative functions like closing bank accounts, closing budgets, closing accounting records, etcetera," county spokeswoman Heather Sawyer said.
While a handful of projects lingered in the past few years, the majority were finished before the end of the decade.
In fact, 99.1 percent of the funds collected during the 2005 sales tax program has been spent and 67.2 percent has been spent from the 2009 program, for which collections will continue into 2014, Sawyer said.
While commissioners have not called for an extension, another 1-percent sales tax program could be on ballots next year.