New­ton County BOC ap­proves 2017 SPLOST list

Projects in­clude Emer­gency-911 cen­ter, an­i­mal con­trol shel­ter, se­nior ser­vices, trans­porta­tion

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­

The list of projects to be funded through a pos­si­ble Spe­cial Pur­pose Lo­cal Op­tions Sales Tax (SPLOST) has been fi­nal­ized.

Among the items ap­proved on the 2017 SPLOST list by the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers (BOC) Tues­day in­clude more than $18 mil­lion for trans­porta­tion, just un­der $4 mil­lion for the Emer­gen- cy-911 Cen­ter, just un­der $2 mil­lion for ex­pan­sion of the Se­nior Ser­vice Cen­ter and a lit­tle more than $1 mil­lion for an an­i­mal con­trol shel­ter.

The list was put to­gether by the 24-per­son cit­i­zen’s SPLOST com­mit­tee cho­sen by the dis­trict com­mis­sion­ers and county chair. The com­mit­tee, chaired by Bax­ter Bouch­illon, was given an ini­tial list that in­cluded all the pro­posed

project re­quests with ex­penses to­tal­ing $91,687,228. The com­mit­tee strate­gi­cally worked to nar­row that down to a project list with ex­penses to­tal­ing $51,010,560.

Among the biggest ex­pen­di­tures com­pletely cut from the list were an aquatic cen­ter ($8 mil­lion), R.L. Cousins renovations ($2,500,000), ad­di­tions to Nel­son Heights Com­mu­nity Cen­ter ($1,550,000) and a sher­iff depart­ment an­nex ($500,000).

The county es­ti­mated it will re­ceive $900,000 a month for a pe­riod of 72 months for a to­tal SPLOST re­turn of $64,800,000. Af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions with may­ors from each of New­ton County’s five mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, it was de­ter­mined New­ton County would re­ceive 78.72 per­cent of that num­ber for a to­tal of $51,010,560.

The list, which was ap­proved 4-1 by the BOC, with Dis­trict 4 Com­mis­sioner J.C. Hen­der­son vot- ing against, is:

Out of the county’s al­lot­ted to­tal of $51,010,560, $8,310,560 will go to­ward fa­cil­i­ties, $4.1 mil­lion to­ward parks and recre­ation, $4.9 mil­lion to fleet re­place­ment and equip­ment, $18.5 mil­lion to trans­porta­tion, $10.5 mil­lion to debt ser­vice/re­tire­ment, $3.7 mil­lion to Emer­gency-911 com­mu­ni­ca­tions and $1 mil­lion to Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment/In­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment au­thor­ity.

The BOC will vote to put the 2017 SPLOST on the bal­lot for March 14 at its Dec. 6 meet­ing. If vot­ers ap­prove of the SPLOST funds will come in from the ad­di­tional sales tax (the ad­di­tional sales tax has been in New­ton County since the 2005 SPLOST was ap­proved). Those funds, once gen­er­ated through­out the five-year pe­riod will go to pay for the projects placed on the re­cently ap­proved list.

The BOC also ap­proved Tues­day, the fu­ture board’s abil­ity to take out bonds for SPLOST projects up to $15 mil­lion. The abil­ity to bond would en­able projects to be done with­out hav­ing to wait un­til all funds are brought in through tax col­lec­tion. Plac­ing the SPLOST bond ques­tion on the bal­lot in March was unan­i­mously ap­proved by the BOC.

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