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Lake expenses since 2004 top $36 million, officials say

Total expenditures on the Tired Creek Lake project since 2004 are $36,953,692, according to a spreadsheet released by the Grady County Commission this week.
The financial snapshot of the lake project from 2004 through June 30, 2017 was first released last Thursday, but was revised to include grant and state revenue for road improvements to Gainous Road, Cedar Springs Road and State Park Road.
“What hurt us was the mitigation,” Grady County Commission Vice Chairman Ray Prince commented Tuesday night.
The county has spent $11,305,718 on mitigation and $161,670 on mitigation stabilization and Prince says more money will likely be spent.
The county was forced to spend more for mitigation than anticipated after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the county’s consulting engineer failed to follow the mitigation plan approved by the Corps. Commissioners have filed suit against the engineer and subcontractors in hopes of recouping damages to cover the unanticipated expenses.
The cost of mitigation exceeds the second largest line item, which was the dam construction at $8,949,081.
Commissioner T.D. David said for years the lake has been a “cost center” for the county, but now the board is seeking to make it a “profit center.”
“This is a 100-year project that will be an economy maker, a payroll maker, it will bring business here. I just hope we all live long enough to see it,” David said.
Vice Chairman Prince said the results would not be realized overnight. “It’s going to happen, but it will be down the road,” he said.
Mike Bishop, a resident of Cairo, told commissioners he did not want to be “negative” and he hoped the project was a success, but he said that developments in north Florida and at Lake Blackshear had not been developed as planned.
Bishop said the county could not afford to continue spending money on the lake.
David suggested the money being spent were investments in the largest project in the county’s history and suggested the county’s investment was coming to a close.
Richard Jordan, another local resident who attended the meeting this week, said he was supportive of the lake authority, but wished more citizens would get involved and attend the meetings. Jordan warned against being negative about the lake project. “The cards have been dealt and we’ve got to play to win,” he said.
Commission Vice Chairman Prince said that if the county can get the property developed it will create tax dollars and spur tourism, which creates additional sales tax revenue.

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