Georgia National Fair helps raise sales tax dollars to benefit local economy

PERRY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Thousands of people from across the state are in Perry enjoying the rides, food, and fun at the Georgia National Fair. They’re also spending their money which adds up to big sales tax dollars. 41NBC’s Amanda Castro follows where your sales tax dollars are going and how it is helping make a a better Houston County.

The Georgia National Fair is “famous for fun.” But it is also a huge economic benefit for the state of Georgia, for Middle Georgia, for Houston County, and the City of Perry, according to Tommy Stalnaker, the Chairman of the Houston County Board of Commissioners.

500,000 people are estimated to visit the fair this year. They are spending their money at the fairgrounds and around town.

“Businesses like motels, the hotels, restaurants all benefit from folks coming into the fair,” Lee Gilmour, the City Manager for the City of Perry said.

The local economy is cashing in on the sales tax dollars. For every dollar that is spent, seven cents is collected as sales tax. Four pennies go back to the state, two pennies go to the Houston County school district, and one penny goes to the Houston County Board of Commissioners who splits it between the three cities and the county.

“The majority of the sales tax money that we collect is used on county wide projects,” Stalnaker said.

Some examples include the $7 million in upgrades for the 911 center at the Houston County Sheriff’s Office or the $20 million to widen State Road 96. Stalnaker credits the fair for helping raise penny sales tax dollars.

“The fair is one of the largest economic drivers during the year that we have in the county,” Stalnaker said.

The 2012 SPLOST is projected to raise $155 million over six years. The City of Perry’s share pays for projects, like the new sidewalk on Sam Nunn Boulevard.

“We use it for water and sewer projects, we use it for parks and recreation projects, we use it for public safety projects, as well as street resurfacing, bridge work, sidewalks the general gamut of public projects,” Gilmour said.

Gilmour adds penny sales tax dollars take some of the burden off taxpayers.

“It certainly is a good relief for taxpayers in Perry to not have to pay for all this capital structure themselves,” Gilmour said.

The Houston County school district collects two pennies. One penny goes toward the LOST, which helps pay for the overall operation of the school system. The other penny goes toward the ESPLOST which pays for improvements across the district, like the new Langston Road Elementary School.

“We have used it for construction, for the purchase of land, for technology, equipment,” Stephen Thublin, the Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Operations said.

Thublin says the education penny sales tax should raise $112 million.

“Without the ESPLOST our schools would really be in just such disrepair,” Thublin said. “We would not be able to maintain them anywhere near the level that we currently are.”

So remember with every dollar you spend while enjoying the Georgia National Fair money is going back to the local economy and making a better Houston County.

Stalnaker tells 41NBC it looks like the county will be about $16 million short of its penny sales tax projection because of economic downturn and change in tax laws. But he says they will finish all of the projects on the SPLOST list.

The 2012 Houston County SPLOST is will end in September 2018.

Categories: Houston County, Local News

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