SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. - The Social Circle city council met on Thursday to discuss the financial future of the town.
A new special local option sales tax will be levied at the start of a new fiscal year in July.
Social Circle will have about $3 million from SPLOST to spend over those six years, breaking down to about $500,000 a year. The city has prioritized transportation spending, urging cities to spend around 30 percent of the money on roads, sidewalks, bridges and traffic signals.
In a proposed SPLOST breakdown, City Manager Adele Schirmer allocated $1 million over the first two years, or all the available funds, to transportation. After the first two years, the proposal allocates $790,000 to water and sewer infrastructure, $760,000 to public safety needs, $250,000 to building upgrades and $200,000 to parks and recreation.
Another significant financial decision in Social Circle's future is how to pay for much-needed water and sewer upgrades. These improvements will cost an estimated $20 million over 10 years.
The city will borrow most of this money, around $2 million every year or $6 million every third year. Another chunk will come from SPLOST. A little more than $300,000 a year of the remaining funding will come from the water and sewer fund, which is money left over after expenses of running the water and sewer system are subtracted from revenues.
Revenues from the water and sewer fund will be boosted by rate increases of about 7 percent a year. Council member Tyson Jackson expressed concern over rate increases, saying that the primary complaint he heard from his constituents was that their water bills were too high.
The council agreed to find out what nearby cities charged for water to see if the planned rate increases were reasonable. Mayor Hal Dally said paying for the water and sewer upgrades would be painful in the short term, as rates increase and other projects are deferred, but necessary for the city's growth in the long term.
SPLOST is a countywide, six-year, 1 percent sales tax voted on by citizens and then divided up among cities according to population.
However, a SPLOST can only be passed if the money has already been purposed. Therefore, Social Circle must decide what they will use the SPLOST money for before the vote on a new SPLOST for 2019-2024.
Social Circle's financial plan will be open for public comment April 17.