In 2011, the first time in five years, Newton County residents will vote on whether to have another special local option sales tax. However, before a ballot is formed, the Newton County Board of Commissioners must select a list of projects to put to a referendum.
The BOC is having a SPLOST work session at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday at the Historic Courthouse; all municipalities have already submitted their list of projects to the county and representatives from each city will likely be in attendance Wednesday.
At a previous bi-monthly mayor's meeting, Covington Mayor Kim Carter said the county is given an advantage in determining SPLOST projects, because BOC is the body that approves the project list and calls for a referendum; the mayors agreed they needed to stand together to make sure the cities get a fair percentage of projected SPLOST money.
SPLOST is an optional, 1 cent sales tax that is used to pay for projects that would normally be outside of local governments budgets. The additional revenue is used for a variety of projects, including roads, water and sewer infrastructure and public buildings. Controversial projects are sometimes avoided, because if a SPLOST referendum is voted down by residents, the entire list of projects is defeated.
At a previous meeting, Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry said his city had requested a new water main alongside Emory Street that would replace 80-year-old infrastructure. He said there is simply no grant money available for these types of projects, so the SPLOST is the only option, outside of taking out loans.
Carter agreed the city needed those pipes, but she said at the time that SPLOST is no loner being used as frequently for roads, bridges and infrastructure, and she would like the mayors to give some consideration to greenspace projects.
The SPLOST work session is open to the public.