CAIRO — Grady County commissioners will have to hedge against the potential failure of the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) after all.

County Administrator Buddy Johnson said the county has received clarification from the state Department of Revenue that at least 14 days must pass between the first and third legally mandated public hearings for any mil increase.

That means commissioners will again have to consider introducing a mil increase before the Nov. 5 election if the tax digest is to be mailed before December.

Commissioners previously voted to introduce an increase of 4.75 mills Aug. 6 to act as a failsafe in the case of voters rejecting the SPLOST, but the move was later retracted within the hour after it was determined that the tax digest could be mailed after the referendum.

Johnson laid out the intended plan of action late last month in the case of the SPLOST’s failure with the three mandated hearings set to take place within a two day period the week after the referendum, but the state’s clarification upended those plans.

Two public hearings for the mil increase will instead take place Oct. 22 at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The third hearing will take place Nov. 7, after it has already been determined if the SPLOST has passed or failed.

“I know we’ve bounced around like a ping pong ball on some of this, but there’s reasons for that that are not worth discussing at this point,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is we’ll have it right when it’s time to have it right.”

If the SPLOST passes, commissioners will have the option to retract the mil increase at a later date.

“We can always roll the mill rate back, but we can’t roll it up,” Johnson said.

If approved, the new SPLOST is expected to generate $18 million in revenue across six years.

Johnson has stressed that he believes the SPLOST is the best method of paying for vital projects and bills. He said the SPLOST is fair and does not represent a new tax, but the continuation of the 2014 SPLOST which was approved by voters.

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