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SPLOST tax collections down for '07

CONYERS - Effects of the worsening U.S. economy are being felt locally and are cited for causing a drop in sales tax revenue in 2007 for Rockdale County's special purpose local option sales tax.

Tax collections for December were $55,000 over projections at $1.469 million. Despite that report, it was the first time in two months SPLOST tax revenue had met projections. Overall, sales tax revenue dropped 3.2 percent in 2007 when compared to 2006.

"It mirrors what's going on with the economy, not just here but everywhere," said Arthur Vaughn, chairman of the SPLOST finance subcommittee.

In 2006, the average monthly amount collected for SPLOST was $1.44 million. Last year, the average monthly amount was $1.39 million.

Also, the county faces its first large debt service payment on April 1 when $10 million will be due. The debt comes from $46.4 million in general obligation bonds taken out shortly after voters approved the SPLOST as a way to get the projects started without waiting. The bond debt is paid back on the promise of collecting the 1-cent sales tax through 2011.

Vaughn said there will be no problem making the payment and money is available. Payments are made twice a year with a lesser amount due in the second half of each year. The next bond payment will be $768,538 due on Oct. 1. In April 2009, the bond payment will go up to $10.5 million.

In other news, the SPLOST Oversight Committee recommended $43,000 to be spent for design of the horse trailer parking lot to be built at the South Rockdale Community Park on East Fairview Road.

The next SPLOST Oversight Committee meeting has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. May 19 to coincide with the grand opening of the expanded Olivia Haydel Senior Center, at 1240 Dogwood Drive.

SPLOST revenue was used to expand floor space of the senior center by about a third, as well as building entrance improvements, an expansion of the area used for the Meals On Wheels program and additional parking.

Progress on the construction of the Hurst Road Fire Station is moving forward. Concrete curbs and gutters have been installed, and a portion of the building's foundation has been completed, according to Roger Hatch, chairman of the SPLOST Fire Safety subcommittee.

Structural steel for the building was scheduled to arrive this week. Construction is anticipated to be finished by August.

Work continues on obtaining a clear title on the Walker Road property, Hatch said.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.