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SPLOST work session at 6 tonight
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The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) will get a review when the Newton County Board of Commissioners holds a work session at 6 tonight at the Historic Courthouse.

Chairman Kathy Morgan said she will present some further information about the county's debt service needs and will also try to get future maintenance and operation costs for each project.

Oxford increased its request by $200,000 to $1.28 million, but continued to ask for money to replace some of its 80-year-old water mains and make other water system improvements. Ewing's proposal awarded Oxford $1.23 million.

Porterdale was allocated $830,000 for transportation and recreation projects and the Porterdale gym. Mayor Bobby Hamby requested an additional $248,000, most of which would be used for the gym. He said the Porterdale City Council will solidify its list at its Monday meeting.

Newborn was allocated $336,840, despite the fact it only asked for $142,500 originally. However, the city increased its project list, asking for a total of $115,000 for sidewalks, $119,000 for building improvements, $100,000 for parks and recreation and $3,000 for safety signs.

Mansfield asked for $1.45 million originally, but only received $252,630 for transportation needs. Mayor Bill Cocchi asked for an additional $100,000 for much needed vehicle replacements.

In order to collect SPLOST money for six years instead of the traditional five, the county and its cities must sign an intergovernmental agreement approving a SPLOST proposal. All mayors said they would ask their councils to authorize the mayors and city attorney to meet with the chairman and county attorney to sign an intergovernmental agreement.

The mayors, chairman and attorneys will negotiate the terms of the intergovernmental agreement. The cities expressed a desire to receive money for their projects as soon as the county received it. Once the agreement is approved, the Board of Commissioners will vote on a final SPLOST list, most likely at its Dec. 21 meeting.

In addition, she said some commissioners have expressed a desire to get more details about some of the SPLOST projects. She said Friday that passing the SPLOST is critical, because the majority of projects on the list would have to be funded through the county’s general fund if the SPLOST was not passed. Considering the fact the county has had to cut its budget two straight years and lay off employees, adding millions to the budget would be a hardship.

Newton County's five cities made their final SPLOST requests to the county on Friday with little fanfare, though Mansfield, Oxford and Porterdale asked for additional funding above their pro rata share.

The cities submitted $21.5 million in reduced SPLOST requests in November, but under County Commissioner Mort Ewing’s proposal, the cities would receive only a combined $10.1 million. Friday, the cities asked for $10.95 million.

Covington originally requested $16.53 million, including $8 million to replace water lines, but no water requests were retained under Ewing’s proposal. Mayor Kim Carter said the city would accept its $7.46 million allocation, including $6.96 million for road improvements and $500,000 for airport improvements. She said the city's pro rata share should be $10.72 million, but it was willing to share some of that unused portion with other cities and the county.