OLOST, a Bibb County penny sales tax, passes in final minutes before General Assembly deadline on Sine Die Day.
ATLANTA — Many lawmakers from Central Georgia were saying “fourth time’s the charm” about this penny sales tax at the beginning of this legislative session, and their wish finally came true. HB 575 is now on its way to the Governor’s desk.
If the Governor signs the bill, Macon-Bibb County voters will have to vote on whether they want the change. This penny sales tax, known as an OLOST, is meant to help Bibb County property owners by rolling back the millage rate, but in exchange, people will have to pay an extra cent on the dollar for taxable items they purchase in the county.
With 15 minutes left in the legislative session for the Georgia General Assembly, HB 575, sponsored by Rep. Robert Dickey, passed the Georgia House of Representatives for final approval of the amended bill. It passed the House 165-1.
It barely passed the State Senate, 29-23, on Wednesday evening. The bill was supposed to be voted on the House floor earlier Wednesday evening for a final vote; however, just before 9 p.m., an amendment was made, meaning it had to be voted on again by the Senate before it goes to the House floor.
Mayor Lester Miller and Mayor Pro Tem Seth Clark were in Atlanta waiting for the bill to be passed. “We’re up here doing all we can to make sure that OLOST passes, and we’re very hopeful. Like the Mayor said, this will be one of the largest tax rollbacks in the history since consolidation. That’s what we’re up here fighting for,” Clark said about an hour before the final vote. Miller said earlier on Wednesday that if the bill did not pass, it would have been detrimental to the local economy, and that the legislation could have been “dead once and for all.”
Now that the change is moving on to the Governor’s desk, county leaders say they’re celebrating their victory. “Macon-Bibb County is going to get the biggest tax relief that it’s ever got before. We’re going to roll the taxes back. You’re going to see about a 40 percent reduction in millage rate on the Bibb County side,” Miller said.
So, how will this bill affect you if the Governor signs it? Macon-Bibb County would hold a special election where you can vote on whether or not you are in favor of this new penny sales tax. If that referendum passes, expect lower property taxes and a slight increase in sales tax.
The tax will ease the burden on property owners, but people will have to pay one more cent on the dollar for taxable items. Miller says a plus for residents is that around 70 percent of the county’s sales tax is actually paid by people who live outside of Bibb County.