County to talk SPLOSTS Mon­day

The Covington News - - Front Page - Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­

County com­mis­sion­ers will dis­cuss how to spend re­main­ing 2005 SPLOST road money and how to al­lo­cate fu­ture 2011 SPLOST money at a Mon­day work session at 6:30 p.m. at the His­toric Court­house.

Chair­man Kathy Mor­gan said the county has about $5.4 mil­lion left in 2005 SPLOST road money the ma­jor­ity of which she hopes the board will ap­prove putting to­ward in­stalling a sig­nal at the Ga. High­way 81 and Crow­ell Road in­ter­sec­tion in Por­terdale. The pro­ject is ex­pected to cost more than $3 mil­lion.

An­other pro­ject be­ing con­sid­ered is the paving of Gaithers

Road, which runs be­tween Davis Ford Road and County Road 213 in south­east­ern New­ton County. Mor­gan said she’s not sure the county will have enough 2005 SPLOST money to com­plete both the Gaithers and Crow­ell road projects.

A third, much smaller pro­ject is the re­align­ment of Al­covy Tres­tle Road at its in­ter­sec­tion with Ga. High­way 11. The in­ter­sec­tion causes con­fu­sion be­cause it is di­rectly ad­ja­cent to the on­go­ing ramp at exit 98 of In­ter­state 20.

2011 SPLOST process

The board of com­mis­sion­ers will also dis­cuss how to al­lo­cate 2011 SPLOST monies as they are col­lected.

Be­cause no projects will be bonded, they the­o­ret­i­cally can­not be com­pleted un­til all or nearly all of their al­lo­ca­tion is col­lected. If the projects are given money on a sim­ple pro-rata ba­sis, that would mean most projects wouldn’t be started for five to six years.

Mor­gan said this makes sense be­cause the county does not have money to pay for any ad­di­tional main­te­nance and op­er­a­tion this year, but hopes to be in bet­ter fi­nan­cial shape in five years.

How­ever, of­fi­cials back­ing projects such as the Mir­a­cle League field con­struc­tion or ju­di­cial cen­ter ex­pan­sion are go­ing to push for those projects to be com­pleted ear­lier if at all pos­si­ble. This would re­quire the board to set pri­or­i­ties for projects, Mor­gan said.

Mor­gan said she wants to form a com­mit­tee for each pro­ject to keep track of the pro­ject’s process, such as pre­lim­i­nary de­sign work and other prepa­ra­tions. She hopes the com­mit­tees would be com­prised of of­fi­cials with knowl­edge of the pro­ject, two com­mis­sion­ers and Mor­gan and an­other ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cial.

“ I’m very con­cerned that we take a pro­fes­sional ap­proach about how we count monies and re­port them to the board and cit­i­zens. I want to put to­gether a pro­gram to help us track the dol­lars we col­lect and spend,” Mor­gan said.

If SPLOST monies are di­vided pro-rata, then the only projects that would be com­pleted in the short term are ve­hi­cle re­place­ments and roads, which ob­vi­ously are bro­ken down into sev­eral smaller items.

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