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BOC discusses 2011 SPLOST, plans more meetings
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The Board of Commissions once again discussed the 2011 SPLOST Thursday night and came to the conclusion they need more information and more meetings.

The final deadline to approve a resolution calling for a 2011 SPLOST list is January 4, and commissioners suggested having biweekly meetings in order to put sufficient time and effort into paring down an initial list that could contain as much as $180 million in projects. SPLOST collection projections are around $55 million.

District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing suggested the county should meet with its five municipalities within the next two weeks to get their input in trimming down projects. If the county and cities can agree on projects, they can sign an intergovernmental agreement, which allows the county to collect the additional one percent sales tax for six years, instead of the normal five. If an agreement is approved, the SPLOST collection would end June 30, 2017.

Commissioners agreed that the county needs to be conservative with its requests, choose projects that benefit the entire county and be careful about large or controversial projects, because taxpayers may be keener to vote down a SPLOST during this economy, as opposed to prior SPLOST elections.

District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz said she wanted to see an emphasis on transportation projects, both short-term and long-term projects. District 5 Commissioner Tim Fleming said he believed brick and mortar projects should be avoided, because of their higher price tag and the fact the county is struggling with current maintenance and operation costs. Ewing said he believed the county needs to focus on upgrading existing projects, while adding a few new projects. He also mentioned a desire to see existing debt paid down and to see roads projects and public safety projects emphasized.