The interim grand jury presentment, addressed to Cherokee Superior Court judges Frank Mills, Jackson Harris and Ellen McElyea, asked voters in the county to be aware of the ramifications of the 1 percent sales tax to be used to roll back property taxes.
“The tax is revenue neutral to the county,” the presentment stated. “However, be aware the new provision is a permanent tax unless repealed and does not put in place any restrictions on changing in the mileage rate or assessment value for property.”
The presentment goes on to state: “As such we the grand jury strongly urge the residents of Cherokee County to research this new proposal before the upcoming November election. We also urge county residents to read and understand the language of the two questions that will appear on the November ballot.”
Jenelle Funk, Cherokee County’s chief financial officer, said District Attorney Garry Moss called her Tuesday to conduct the HOST presentation that day before the grand jury, which lasted 45 minutes. The call from Moss came as a surprise, she said.
“Garry said that the grand jury just wanted somebody to explain it to them,” Funk said. “So I brought the presentation that was from our website and wondered if they were going to ask questions or had any concerns. But they basically just asked me to make a presentation so they could have the information.”
Grand juries regularly meet on the second Monday and Tuesday of each month.
Funk said she was uncertain what made the grand jury members interested in HOST. Much of the grand jury’s interest had to do with clarifying the tax and how it would offset the county’s maintenance and operations budget.
Moss declined to speak about why the grand jury made the request for a HOST presentation. But he said grand juries often discuss ballot questions.
In addition to numerous media reports, several presentations on HOST have already been conducted, including two forums hosted by Cherokee Bank and the Cherokee Tribune, as well as scheduled presentations by Cherokee Board of Commission members to each of the cities in the county.
Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens will conduct the next HOST presentation at 7 p.m. todayat the Ball Ground City Council meeting.
Voters will be asked two questions on the ballot: If HOST should be approved and if 100 percent of revenue should be used to reduce homeowner property taxes.
Officials estimate that HOST will generate about $30 million in revenue from residents and outsiders who shop in Cherokee County. In September, county commissioners approved a resolution to use 100 percent of the revenue to reduce property taxes.