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SPLOST unveils plan for $75 million in funds
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The public got a peek at $75 million of proposed projects for the next round of a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which will go to the ballot July 20, the lion’s share of which would go to transportation.

Out of the county’s portion, about $65 million, $33 million of that would go towards transportation projects, such as pavement resurfacing, project management, road striping and other safety projects.

Out of $15 million in public safety requests, the sheriff’s office would spend about $5 million to build a southside precinct, women’s work release building, and renovations of the older half of the jail. About $10 million would be used towards the replacement of the county’s radio system for the 911 center, renovation of two fire stations, and fire engines and apparatus for the fire stations.

About $5 million would be used for recreation and senior services to renovate existing parks and facilities.

Rockdale Water Resources is also requesting about $12 million, down from their previous estimated request of $15 million, to establish a 10 million-gallon holding tank for one day’s worth of water, and 105 miles of water pipe replacements.

About $10 million was requested for the city of Conyers, to be divided approximately 70 percent for transportation, 20 percent on green space, and 10 percent on capital requests.

According to the county, if the new SPLOST were approved, the sales tax in Rockdale County would stay at 7 percent, with 4 percent of that going to the state, 1 percent going to the Board of Education, and one percent going to the Homestead Option Sales Tax.

The focus on this year’s request, according to Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon, was on projects that would not add to the operations and maintenance costs for the city and county.

Conyers Mayor Randy Mills addressed a question about the regional transportation tax that’s been discussed in the state legislature.

"The regional transportation tax is for big, big projects. This sales tax is for local projects," said Mills. "This is for the people. It’s not about the Rockdale County government or city government."

Real estate broker and business owner Jo Carter-Harbin said she was in support of the SPLOST but pointed out that the proposed projects overlooked one aspect she felt was vital to attracting new business.

"We need to address sewer," she said. "If I’m bringing in a business and commercial account to the county, the first thing they say is we need sewer… I don’t know how we’re going to do it unless we set aside some monies to do it."

Voters have approved SPLOSTs since 1987, the county’s first SPLOST, which was approved to fund the building of the Nancy Guinn Memorial Library. Voters also approved a SPLOST in 1989 to fund a drinking water reservoir, in 1992 and 1996 for transportation improvements, in 1996 for the Johnson Park Recreation Complex and a water treatment plant, and other water system improvements in 1999.

The current SPLOST, approved in 2004, was originally projected at $99 million but is now projected to finish about $4 million to $6 million short of the projection and will end in March of 2011. It was approved to fund the jail expansion, construction of new fire stations, tennis center, expansion of the Senior Service Center, and renovation of the library.