The Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) started its course for a 2017 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Monday.
The BOC discussed a preliminary list of projects, reviewed how much of potential SPLOST money would be dedicated to roads, infrastructure, debt and projects, and planned when it would meet with municipalities.
Among the projects and their estimated cost brought in front of the BOC by County Manager Lloyd Kerr were:
•Senior Center expansion — $2 million
•Animal Control facility — $3-5 million
•Brick Store interior renovation — $500,000
•Yellow River Trail — $4 million
•Fleet replacement — $3-4 million
•Juvenile Court building — $1 million
•African-American museum — $1.3 million
•911 upgrade — $5-10 million
•Veterans park (joint with city) — $2 million
•Fire Services — $7.2 million
•Recreation — $1 million
•NCSO building and communications — $7.6 million
•Heavy equipment — $4.7 million
•Chimney Park — $300,000
•Victoria Station and Dina Pace — $193,000
•Nelson Heights — $1.5 million
•New Leaf Workforce — $50,000
•Washington Street — $800,000
•Trelawney Park — $800,000
•Settlers Grove — $250,000
•R.L. Cousin — $2.5 million
•Judicial Center expansion — $2.5 million
The board agreed that debt reduction and transportation were important to include on the 2017 project list to the tune of around $30 million for debt reductions and $25 million for transportation.
“Whoever the next board is, and everyone else in the decision-making is going to find that having flexibility to be able to go to Atlanta and the [department of transportation] and say we have this much, and it is not earmarked, is very important,” said Newton County Chair Keith Ellis. “In terms of making decisions, lord oh mercy, you need that $25 million.”
District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox, along with debt reduction and transportation, said SPLOST needs to include “larger regional projects that can affect more people.”
Among the items he suggested was an aquatic/swim center.
Kerr laid out for the BOC how much revenue is roughly expected to be brought in if a 2017 SPLOST referendum was to pass. He said between $850,000 and $900,000 a month would be possible, equating to about $10.2 million to $10.8 million per year for around $61.2 million to $64.8 million throughout the life of the SPLOST. State law dictates that SPLOST revenues be divided between counties and municipalities, and the way Newton has done it in the past two SPLOST allocations has been percentages derived from population. That left the county with around 83 percent of the SPLOST revenues. If that was applied to Kerr’s projections for a 2017 SPLOST, the county would receive a share of $51.1 million to $53.8 million.
Newton County and the five municipalities will have to meet to discuss projects, and form an intergovernmental agreement on how funds will be distributed. Those meeting dates were also discussed Monday.
According to Kerr, who was instructed to consult a calendar and report the dates back to the board, a letter to municipalities will need to be sent by Oct. 1. Around Oct. 9 a meeting would need to be held with the municipalities and an intergovernmental agreement adopted around Nov. 1. That would put a March election in motion, with the board of elections needing to be notified by Nov. 16, a call for election needing to be published by Dec. 12, absentee ballots issued between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4 and election day on March 21.
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