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Covington looks at three types of SPLOST projects

At a work session held Monday night, the Covington City Council and staff talked about the city’s proposed 2017 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) project list.

According to City Manager Leigh Anne Knight, the city will submit its request to the county at the Board of Commissioners’ work session next Tuesday. “All of our [projects] are infrastructure and capital in nature. It is things that would directly benefit the citizens or would allow us to better perform our responsibilities.”

The staff has compiled a list of projects, all falling into one of three categories: public safety, transportation and sewer system improvements.

“We have a list of things that would qualify for each of those,” Knight said, adding staff will submit the top priority items to the council for consideration.

Some of the public safety projects would be to upgrade equipment and facilities for the 911 Call Center, Knight said. “There is a whole list of things, depending on how much money we get — equipment for the fire department, evidence storage space for the police department, training space for the fire and police departments.”

If approved during a March 21 election, the SPLOST collected for the five-year period beginning in 2017 is estimated at $61.2 million.

SPLOST monies can only be used for parks, schools, roads and other public facilities or capital improvements. They cannot be used for operating expenses or most maintenance projects. Voters would need to approve a referendum, allowing the county to collect up to two percent of each sales dollar spent in the county for a five or six year period. In Newton County, SPLOST amounts are usually limited to one penny per dollar.

From 2005 to 2010, the county collected $58,800,000 in SPLOST funds. Covington requested and received $3,693,000 for transportation projects, such as repairing and repaving roads. The 2011 to 2016 SPLOST revenues totaled $57,600,000. The city received $11,966,620, with $500,000 used for airport improvements and the balance for transportation projects.