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County approves Ewing's SPLOST list
Schulz's alternate list voted down
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To read more detailed descriptions of each project included in Commissioner Mort Ewing's proposal, read this previous story -

Commissioner Mort Ewing's Proposal:

Level One SPLOST projects
Jail pods debt service - $3 million
Administration Building debt service - $5 million
Judicial Center (expansion) - $7 million

Level Two SPLOST projects
Upgrade parks - $1 million
Miracle League Field - $1.5 million
District 4 improvements - $1.1 million (includes the following bullet point items)
• $200,000 to buy property for a park in Settlers Grove
• $200,000 to buy property for a park in Dinah Pace
• $100,000 for playground equipment for Victoria's Station
• $545,000 to buy property for a future homeless, workforce development and health center to be run by Newton County Minister's Union
• $55,000 for an indigent cemetery
Animal Control - $100,000
Juvenile facility - $500,000
Historic Jail - $1.2 million
Agricultural facility - $1.1 million
Fire Station #8 - $1.1 million
Hospital emergency room - $4 million
Landfill debt service - $500,000
Public Works equipment - $500,000
County vehicle replacement - $2.5 million
Fire services - $100,000
Road improvements - $17.28 million

Municipal SPLOST projects
Transportation - $6.96 million
Airport - $500,000

Porterdale (these numbers have been altered)
Transportation - $394,000
Porterdale Gym - $400,000
Recreation - $36,000

Water lines - $1.23 million

Transportation - $252,630

Transportation, recreation and community center - $336,840

Total: $57.6 million

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.