NewsNews Features

SPLOST 2020, Explained

SPLOST—pronounced “spee-lost” by some—stands for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Not to be confused with ESPLOST (for schools) or TSPLOST (for transportation), it’s a 1% tax that communities can use to build or buy things they might not otherwise be able to afford if they relied on property taxes alone.

Athens voters have approved six previous rounds of SPLOST dating back to 1985, which paid for the Athens Regional Library, the Classic Center, Southeast Clarke Park, Trail Creek Park, restoring the Morton Theatre, a new jail, public art and countless other park, road and infrastructure projects. The current proposal is an extension of the existing tax, not a new one.

This year’s list—chosen mostly by a 22-member citizens advisory committee—is topped by a $78 million “facilities space modernization project.” This would involve building a new courthouse to replace the current overcrowded and outdated one, then renovating the existing building to house Athens-Clarke County government offices that are now scattered throughout the city. Other big-ticket items include $45 million for affordable housing—most of which would go toward redeveloping the aging Bethel Midtown Village apartment complex near downtown—and $34 million for a Classic Center arena.

Some argue that sales taxes are regressive, which is true, but Georgia law offers no other option besides drastically raising property taxes. Sales taxes are also the only way for out-of-town commuters, tourists, convention-goers, football fans and other visitors, as well as UGA students living on campus, to help pay for local roads, parks, government buildings and other amenities.

Early voting is underway at the ACC Board of Elections at 155 E. Washington St. from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. through Friday, Nov. 1. Four other locations—the Miriam Moore Community Center (410 McKinley Dr.), the Athens Regional Library (2025 Baxter St.), the ACC Cooperative Extension Office (275 Cleveland Road) and City Hall (301 College Ave.) are opening Wednesday, Oct. 30. Hours at the Miriam Moore Community Center, the extension office and City Hall will be 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Oct. 30 and 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Hours at the library will be the same, except it will open at 10 a.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. There is no early voting the Monday before Election Day. On Tuesday, Nov. 5, vote between 7 a.m.–7 p.m. at your regular polling place.

It’s important to note that the list is being voted on as a whole—voters can’t pick and choose.

While the judicial center and Classic Center arena drew some criticism when the ACC Mayor and Commission was approving the final list back in July, little organized opposition to SPLOST 2020 has emerged. The Clarke County Republican Party is urging a “no” vote (while falsely implying that it is a tax increase; if approved, local sales taxes will stay at the current level of 8%). The Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee has endorsed SPLOST 2020. Progressive group Athens for Everyone is not taking a position.

The SPLOST citizens advisory committee has morphed into Friends of Athens-Clarke County SPLOST 2020, which is promoting the tax and has set up a website at More information about individual projects is also available at The full $314 million list of 37 projects is below.

Mayor and Commission Designated

Facilities Space Modernization $77.9 million

Affordable Housing $44.5 million

Classic Center Arena $34 million

SPLOST Bond Debt Service $16 million

Public Safety

Fire Department Equipment $2.7 million

Fire Department No. 5 Replacement $6.2 million

E911 Phone System Replacement $767,000

Public Safety Vehicle and Equipment Replacement $8 million

Mobile Medical Services Facility $500,000


Environmental Mitigation and Restoration $2 million

Renewable Energy $15.8 million

Greenspace Acquisition and Sustainability $826,000

Leisure Services

Holland Youth Sports Complex Improvements $5 million

Athens West Park $1.8 million

Sandy Creek Nature Center Exhibit $308,000

Memorial Park Improvements $5.9 million

Beech Haven Park Improvements $4.6 million

Tallassee Forest Nature Preserve Improvements $2.9 million

Bishop Park Improvements $5 million

Parks Facilities Improvements $6.7 million

Bear Hollow Zoo Improvements $5.3 million

Facilities and Infrastructure

Broadband Connectivity Enhancement $6.5 million

East Athens Youth and Community Enrichment Facilities $4 million

Animal Shelter Improvements $559,000

Eastside Public Library $14.5 million

Recovered Material Processing and Reuse Facility $8.5 million

Facilities Equipment/Systems Replacement $7.9 million

Mental Health Recovery Facility $5.3 million

Welcome Center Access Improvements $825,000

Transportation and Public Works

Airport Capital Improvements $5.3 million

Vincent Drive Sidewalk $1.9 million

Tallassee Road Connector $4 million

Jackson Street Art Walk $3.4 million

Water Trails $750,000

Live Stream Pipe Replacement $500,000


City of Winterville $3 million

City of Bogart $378,000