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BOC considers SPLOST oversight committee

COVINGTON, Ga. – Tuesday night at its regularly scheduled meeting, the Newton County Board of Commissioners discussed the formation a citizen SPLOST oversight committee to help establish priorities for projects using the county’s share of funds that are collected.

The SPLOST, or Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is a one percent sales tax collected by a county to fund debt service, developments and improvements of county and city facilities, green space, parks and recreation facilities, public safety needs and road improvements.

Newton County voted in the spring to approve the current SPLOST, which took effect July 1. Projects to be funded by the tax were established prior to the vote.

At the last BOC meeting, County Manager Lloyd Kerr suggested that commissioners think about appointing an oversight committee to help prioritize SPLOST projects. Commissioners asked Kerr to take a look other communities that utilize SPLOST committees and report back with suggestions.

Among the suggestions Kerr made is for each BOC member to appoint three members to the committee. The members would serve six-year terms to coincide with the length of time the tax is collected. The terms of each member would be concurrent with the commissioner who appointed him or her.

After the committee is formed, members would elect officers and determine a calendar. Kerr suggested that the committee meet monthly for the first 12 months to determine priorities and develop project timelines and establish subcommittees. Subcommittees would be appointed by the chairperson.

The committee would present recommendations to the BOC prioritizing projects.

Kerr suggested after the first 12 months, members could meet quarterly and monitor progress on projects. The committee would present quarterly status reports to the BOC.

District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz said committees like a SPLOST committee are good ways to develop leadership in a community.

“These types of committees are good ways to begin leadership development,” she said, “People who might not want to serve in an elected position, or might want to get involved in the process this is a good way for them to dip their toes. We only have so many Boards and this would be a good way to look at the entire financial picture of the county.”

Kerr said recommendations made by the committee would only apply to projects for unincorporated Newton County.

“The cities would be completely autonomous,” he said.