Commissioners, city officials and various group directors met throughout the better part of the day Tuesday, Nov. 27, at The Colonnade to prioritize pressing projects submitted by city and county officials.
Local leaders are faced with sharing the anticipated $56 million that would be collected under the next special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST).
The tax must be approved by voters, but officials must first submit a list of projects that would be paid for with the funds.
Unlike the local option sales tax (LOST), which goes to the general fund of the county and its two cities, the special tax — a penny sales tax on every dollar — must be specifically accounted for and appropriated before voters can approve — or reject — the tax.
A "wish list" of projects to be paid for with the SPLOST funds initially tallied up toward the $160 million mark. After much review and evaluation and "whittling down," officials have shaved the total to a much more manageable amount, but say there is still a great deal of pending discussion and compromising in several areas.
"At this point, we're just trying to be fair and consider all the requests," county commissioner Jim Cutler said," but still be very, very frugal at the same time with the money."
A few high-ticket, pressing items on the list include patrol cars to replenish the aging fleet, fire hydrants and water line upgrades, upkeep of existing fire stations and equipment, improvements to recreational parks to help them be more self-sustaining, and an expansion of the current detention center to combat overcrowding.
Several looming road and sewer projects are also being closely examined to provide more safety and to prevent unnecessary repeated and costly repairs in the future.