Mayor inks agreement, SPLOST?projects picked

Grady County elected officials are laying the groundwork to call for a referendum early in 2012 to ask the voters to renew the one penny Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for a period of six years.
Over that time, it is estimated the penny sales tax will generate $18,000,000 in revenue and the Cairo City Council is anticipating collecting $6,912,000 or 38.4 percent of the total collections.
Monday night, city leaders discussed the projects they would ask the voters to approve for funding through sales tax proceeds.
City Manager Chris Addleton presented a list of recommended projects including $750,000 for a landfill transfer station in anticipation of the city’s sanitary landfill closing in the future.
“At this point in time, I don’t think we need to put anything in for the landfill transfer station until we decide what we are going to do at the landfill. I would hate to put something in that we may not need,” Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas said.
Douglas said the city may opt to privatize garbage collection and the city would not be responsible for a transfer station. Or he said, depending on the route the city and county go in on solid waste management, a transfer station might be a joint city-county project.
“We haven’t done enough homework to include it,” Douglas added.
The city manager admitted it was “pretty specific” and said that, although the projected life expectancy of the landfill is set at 2019, every year that number has been moved forward.
Mayor Richard VanLandingham suggested perhaps some money be earmarked for the landfill to cover other costs, but Douglas opposed saying, “We should have enough in the closure/post closure reserve account to handle any expenses we have.”
Councilman Ernest Cloud said his preference would be to shift the money from the landfill to other projects including paying down long-term debt.
Cloud recommended also investing more in public safety.
After discussing the proposed projects, the council unanimously agreed on the following projects and amounts: streets, sidewalks, curbs, gutters and drainage – $2,412,000; drinking water capital improvements – $1,000,000; waste water treatment capital improvements – $750,000; public safety equipment – $1,250,000; public works equipment – $500,000; payment on previously incurred debt – $1,000,000.
The council approved the intergovernmental agreement with the county on the SPLOST and authorized the mayor to execute the document.
The vote on the SPLOST renewal will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012, or whenever the 2012 Presidential Preference Primary in Georgia is held.
The current tax expires March 31, 2014, and local leaders want to make sure there is a seamless collection of the penny sales tax. If approved, the new tax will not begin to be collected until April 1, 2014, and the tax will expire on March 31, 2020, unless voters renew it at that time.
Grady County is anticipating collecting $10,746,000 over the life of the tax and will invest $3,246,000 in capital improvements on roads, bridge construction and equipment. The county will utilize $1,500,000 to upgrade and replace public safety equipment and $6,000,000 will be earmarked to pay down long-term debt.
The city of Whigham’s share of the $18,000,000 in projected tax revenue is 1.9 percent or $342,000.

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