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Posted: December 21, 2010 11:15 p.m.

County approves Ewing's SPLOST list

Schulz's alternate list voted down

The Newton County Board of Commissioners approved Commissioner Mort Ewing's 6-year, $57.6 million SPLOST list by a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, with Commissioner Earnest Simmons opposing.

Before the board voted on Ewing's original proposal, Commissioner Nancy Schulz made a substitute motion to approve her list, which removed the allocations of $1.1 million for an agricultural center, $1.1 million for District 4 improvements and $100,000 for fire equipment. The majority of that $2.3 million was put toward paying off debt with the remainder going to pay for more park upgrades.

Schuilz's proposal was voted down 2-3, with Ewing and commissioners Tim Fleming and J.C. Henderson opposing.

For weeks, Schulz and Simmons have expressed opposition to the agricultural center and list of District 4 improvements.

"I've heard from many constituents over the past few weeks, and I feel that leaving these two items on this list places this SPLOST at risk," Schulz said before the board voted down her list. "The public perceives these two items as pork. They perceive these are based on special interests and that these items have not been properly vetted. I believe that leaving these items on this list places this list in jeopardy."

Once her list was defeated, Schulz ended up voting in favor of Ewing's proposal.

"The voters did not put us in this office to play political games, but to be responsible and to make mature decisions. The lack of deliberation and transparency in the selection of this project list is frankly disappointing to me. We are better than this. And we cannot continue on this path. However, I believe this SPLOST is too important to Newton County," Schulz said, adding that the vast majority of the list was composed of needed projects.

The five cities in Newton County must also approve the list and the accompanying intergovernmental agreement. The agreement dictates how the money will be allocated to the governments after it is collected.

Once the cities have voted, the Board of Commissioners will officially call for the March 15 special election at its Jan. 4 meeting. The Newton County Board of Elections will then begin the process of preparing for the election.

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