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$160 million in SPLOST projects submitted
Needs to be cut down to $55 million by January
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Newton County and its five municipalities turned in their SPLOST wish lists recently, and county commissioners are now tasked with cutting down $160 million in requests to an approximately $55 million final list. For a full list of project see the attached PDF.

The special local option sales tax is an optional 1 percent sales tax that is collected specifically to pay for capital projects, normally infrastructure and buildings. Newton County has had four SPLOTS previously, with the first one being passed by voters in 1987 to build Lake Varner.

Following the receipt of requests, the county attorney's office will determine the legality of all projects while county and city employees will work to estimate costs for all projects. County and various city officials will have to have several more meetings this fall to form a final list that is fair to all parties. The county is still working to form a 2011 SPLOST projection, as it sorts out wildly varying collection from recent years.

"But I think the times of just adding 5 percent a year and expecting it to grow are over," Administrative Assistant John Middleton said.

The board of commissioners needs to approve a resolution calling for a SPLOST by Jan. 4 in order to have a SPLOST special election on March 15.

The county will continue to collect money for the current 2005 SPLOST until June 30, and a handful of projects remain to be completed, including the historic jail and civic center. The historic jail museum is expected to bid out by October. While no recent progress has been made on the civic center, officials remain committed to it. Additional money could be given to the project from the 2011 SPLOST. Commissioners will discuss leftover 2005 projects at the next SPLOST meeting.

The county is expecting to collect its full $58.8 million projection, despite the economic downturn. The county budgeted conservatively, unlike some counties that have fallen well short in their SPLOST collections. And while collections took a significant dip during late 2008 and 2009, they have stabilized this year.