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Georgia Election Schedule: Timeline For Local SPLOST Imposition and Bond Issuances

Georgia Election Schedule: Timeline For  Local SPLOST Imposition and Bond Issuances

Local government entities in Georgia such as cities, counties, and school systems (each referred to herein as a “Local Entity”) have multiple reasons to present a question to voters through a referendum. For example, to start or continue a special purpose local option sales tax (“SPLOST”), sales tax for education (sometimes referred to as “ESPLOST,” although the acronym does not work exactly right…), or transportation special purpose local option sales tax (“TSPLOST,” and herein, all three types of sales and use taxes will generically referred to as “Sales Taxes”), a referendum to present a question to the voters to approve any of those measures is required. In addition, to issue general obligation bonds, voter approval is required through a referendum to present a question to the voters.

Set forth below are certain “best practices” and a summary of certain statutory rules that specify the available special election dates. We typically view a special election on a timeline spectrum that commences prior to the election, then proceeds to the Election Day itself, and concludes with certain activities following the election. Below we outline that timeline and offer certain suggestions to make the process flow smoothly.

Prior to the Election

10-11 Months Prior: Local Entity should start a preliminary list of projects, establish costs, draw schedules, and review collection estimates.

9-10 Months Prior: Local Entity (ideally with professional 3rd party guidance) should review (prior and projected) Sales Tax collections and establish preliminary bond size (if any), finalize cost estimates, and draw schedules (cash-flow requirements).

8 Months Prior: Local Entity needs to review list of projects and provide authorization to proceed with Sales Tax and/or Bonds.

7 Months Prior: Local Entity approves list of projects in a called meeting; distributes first drafts of Referendum Resolution (if required) and/or financing documents, Notice of Election, etc.

5-6 Months Prior: Comments submitted on distributed documents; Local Entity adopts appropriate resolution to call election and coordinate with board of elections or probate court judge.

5-8 Weeks Prior to Election: Start publishing notices of upcoming election in legal organ.

Election Dates

Georgia Election Dates[1]
2015 2016[1] 2017
March Tuesday the 1st[2] Tuesday the 21st
May Tuesday the 24th
November Tuesday the 3rd Tuesday the 8th[3] Tuesday the 7th

Following the Election

Within 1 Month of Election: The Local Entity adopts an appropriate resolution declaring the official election results

Within 6 Months of Election: Notice is delivered to the applicable county district attorney commencing the bond validation process (if applicable).


This blog was co-authored by:

— Blake C. Sharpton and Ashton Bligh

Blake Sharpton

[1] O.C.G.A. § 21-2-540
[2] Presidential Preference Primary (PPP)/Special Election.
[3] If a special election is held on a general election date, the “Call” for the election must be published at least 90 days prior to the election. The Call is the first election notice.