County to pur­chase ve­hi­cles with SPLOST money

The Covington News - - Local - GABRIEL KHOULI Staff Re­porter

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved spend­ing $77,736 in 2011 SPLOST funds to pur­chase four ve­hi­cles.

The four pur­chases bring the to­tal amount of 2011 SPLOST money spent on ve­hi­cles to $1.21 mil­lion; the 2011 SPLOST list set aside a to­tal of $2.5 mil­lion for ve­hi­cles.

The county will pur­chase a used Jeep Lib­erty for $18,600 for the county man­ager, two 2012 Chrysler 200s at $18,675 a piece for in­ves­ti­ga­tors with the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s and public de­fender’s of­fices and a used pas­sen­ger van for $21,786 gen­eral use.

County Man­ager John Mid­dle­ton told the board the ve­hi­cles for the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s and public de­fender’s of­fices were both for­mer sher­iff’s of­fice cars with high mileage and main­te­nance is­sues.

The public de­fender’s ve­hi­cle had 170,000plus miles and had been towed a few times from out­side the county, which he said made it dif­fi­cult for in­ves­ti­ga­tors to de­liver sub­poe­nas and talk to wit­nesses. The dis­trict at­tor­ney’s ve­hi­cle had more than 200,000 miles and needs a trans­mis­sion re­place­ment which would prob- ably cost more than the two ve­hi­cles are worth com­bined, Mid­dle­ton said.

The van would ide­ally carry 12-15 peo­ple and would al­low em­ploy­ees to car­pool to events and train­ing ses­sions. The county is work­ing with lo­cal deal­er­ships to find a used van.

The county pre­vi­ously pur­chased around 36 ve­hi­cles for sher­iff’s of­fice as well as emer­gency re­sponse ve­hi­cles for the fire depart­ment and ve­hi­cles for public works, Mid­dle­ton said.

Walker’s Bend com­mu­nity cen­ter

The board also ap­proved spend­ing $545,000 of 2011 SPLOST money to help build an af­ford­able hous­ing com­plex and com­mu­nity cen­ter in the Walker’s Bend neigh­bor­hood, off Washington Street just south of the Turner Lake Road in­ter­sec­tion. The money was al­lo­cated un­der Dis­trict 4 im­prove­ments.

The 40,000 square foot build­ing had an orig­i­nal bud­get of $3.6 mil­lion, but Cov­ing­ton Plan­ning Di­rec­tor Randy Vin­son said Tues­day the build­ing had been scaled back and redesigned af­ter some fund­ing fell through.

The $545,000 will go to­ward build­ing costs, as well as at­tor­ney’s fees and other “soft” costs, said Dis­trict 4 Com­mis­sioner J.C. Hen­der­son.

The ma­jor­ity of the build­ing will con­tain af­ford­able apart­ments and part of the first floor will be a com­mu­nity cen­ter, where job train­ing classes and life skills coun­sel­ing will be of­fered. Hen­der­son said Tues­day he be­lieves cit­i­zens will see the ben­e­fit from the work­force de­vel­op­ment por­tion of the build­ing over the next few years.

Cham­ber up­date

Cov­ing­ton- New­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce of­fi­cials gave the board an up­date of re­cent ac­tiv­i­ties and an­swered ques­tions.

Com­mis­sioner Hen­der­son asked how many va­cant build­ings New­ton County had, and Roger Har­ri­son, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, said the county main­tains a list of avail­able build­ings on the state’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment web­site.

Har­ri­son said the county has three or four prop­er­ties avail­able for Cater­pil­lar ven­dors and sup­pli­ers. The com­pany is build­ing a 1-mil­lion­square-foot fa­cil­ity near Athens that is ex­pected to di­rectly em­ploy 1,400 work­ers when com­pleted. Har­ri­son said pre­vi­ously New­ton County would work to court as­so­ci­ated com­pa­nies.

He said the county has around four to five prime man­u­fac­tur­ing sites, most of which are in Cov­ing­ton’s city lim­its.

Com­mis­sioner Lanier Sims said he sev­eral land own­ers around the new Wal­mart at the in­ter­sec­tion of Brown Bridge and Salem roads have been ask­ing how to mar­ket their prop­erty to prospec­tive com­mer­cial buy­ers.

Sims asked if he should re­fer them to the cham­ber, but cham­ber Pres­i­dent Hunter Hall said the cham­ber would sim­ply pass them on to real es­tate agents. Hall said some peo­ple are sim­ply try­ing to avoid pay­ing real es­tate mar­ket­ing fees and noted that mar­ket­ing prop­erty for pri­vate own­ers could be a con­flict of in­ter­est and is some­thing cham­ber of­fi­cials don’t have time to de­vote to.

Next meet­ing

The board of com­mis­sion­ers will have a work ses­sion at 7 p.m. Mon­day at the His­toric Court­house to dis­cuss the pro­posed al­co­hol or­di­nance. The board will also have a called meet­ing to dis­cuss and po­ten­tially vote on al­low­ing the New­ton County School Sys­tem to is­sues a $17.34 mil­lion bond, which would be back by ad val­orem tax rev­enue.

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