Two Republican lawmakers from South Georgia have proposed legislation requiring more information to be published about how special purpose local option sales tax funds are spent.
Governments would have to disclose in a local newspaper any unspent funds from the tax, known as SPLOST; the estimated completion date of a project paid through SPLOST; and the actual cost of completed projects under bills introduced last week by Rep. Alex Atwood and Sen. William Ligon, both R-Brunswick.
State courts and the attorney general would have the power to enforce the requirements, the bills state.
"It's a little more government transparency," Atwood said. "The big thing that it does, it places some teeth in the law."
Catoosa County's Chief Financial Officer Carl Henson wasn't opposed to the legislation, but said a sufficient amount of SPLOST information already is available.
Local governments are required to publish annual reports in a local newspaper detailing such things as project costs and the amount of SPLOST funds spent in prior and current years, he said.
"We still have '04 SPLOST projects that we're reporting on," Henson said.
County commissioners are apprised about SPLOST funding on a monthly basis, he said.
"We report on that each month," Henson said. "It's part of the package we submit to the commissioners and [the media]."
SPLOST information also is available on the website of the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, Henson said.
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Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.