Heiskell has blocked off three or four nights a week during April and May to discuss the special-purpose local-option sales tax, or SPLOST, meet constituents and talk about the county’s future. She scheduled 18 meetings to convene in the county’s fire stations and other public buildings.
Tuesday night at the Lee School Road Fire Station marked her fifth meeting.
“I’m going over each (SPLOST) project and telling them what the cities are going to do with their SPLOST revenues,” Heiskell said. “I’m telling them what I consider to be the county’s needs and why. Then I open the meeting up to a question and answer period.”
“I want to know from each community what their concerns are so we can look into them and to hear what they have to say about general government,” she said.
Heiskell said attendance at the community meetings has been lower this year than in the past. Only two residents turned out for Tuesday night’s meeting.
Heiskell said she hopes voters will turnout June 17 to continue the SPLOST. Proceeds from the 1-cent sales tax fund capital projects and infrastructure improvements that the county could not afford without a dramatic increase in property taxes.
“SPLOST is the only way to fund these capital projects,” she said.
Heiskell said the tax, if approved, is estimated to generate about $27.5 million over the next five years. Of that amount, $20.6 million will be applied to county projects, and the remaining $6.9 million will be divided among the Chickamauga, Fort Oglethorpe, LaFayette, Lookout Mountain and Rossville for their capital improvements.
For Armuchee Valley residents, Heiskell said some tax revenues will be applied to water projects in Armuchee Valley and other parts of the county without public water. Plans to install a water tank on Taylor’s Ridge are already flowing, and the federal homeland security money trickling down to the counties may be applied to installing a cell phone tower on top of the tank, she said.
Residents in Naomi, Catlett and parts of south Walker County also asked about road and sewer improvements, she said, adding some questioned how the tax dollars were spent over the past 15 years while the county has worked with SPLOST money.
“I had people in the community asking me about how things work and questions about how the (SPLOST) money was going to be spent,” Heiskell said.
Heiskell said she also looks forward to the construction of a firefighter training center. She said the county would be able to fund construction by combining SPLOST proceeds with money gained by selling the right-of-way at the Lee School Road Fire Station to the Georgia Department of Transportation