County hears city SPLOST wish lists

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- Local mayors presented more than $20 million in requests to be funded through the 2011 special purpose local option sales tax to county commissioners Wednesday evening.

The city of Covington had the most expensive wish list, with projects totaling around $16.5 million. That's pared down from the initial $36.5 million the city was seeking.

"We have a rather healthy list," acknowledged Mayor Kim Carter. Projects include the replacement of asbestos cement water lines; the widening of Industrial Boulevard and paving and resurfacing of various streets; drainage projects; and utility relocations. The city is also asking for $750,000 for improvements at Covington Municipal Airport, including $500,000 to partially fund a new terminal building. A request for a new city hall has been removed from the list.

The city of Porterdale is requesting more than $2.2 million in SPLOST funds, with the majority to go toward the preservation of the historic Porterdale Gym, which was damaged by fire in 2005. Mayor Bobby Hamby asked for $1.2 million to stabilize the structure and replace the roof. Porterdale officials have also requested funds to finish the restoration of the historic train depot and begin work on a park near the Yellow River and for basketball courts and playgrounds at two small city parks. The city's transportation projects include the intersection of Ivy and Hemlock streets and a request to improve lighting over the Yellow River bridge.

Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry said his city needs $1.26 million to improve its water supply infrastructure. The city needs to replace cast iron water mains that are 80 years old and are becoming a public health concern and a maintenance issue, Roseberry said. Also, city officials plan to upgrade water lines along Cook Road at Oxford Road to increase water pressure. Residents and businesses in the area have complained of low pressure.

The city of Mansfield is asking for nearly $1.5 million, mostly for water line improvements and also to pave several streets and make sidewalk improvements.

Newborn Mayor Roger Sheridan was right when he told commissioners his request for $142,500 was probably the least they would get. Town officials want money to do additional work to the newly renovated schoolhouse that is now operating as a community center, pave half of Timberlake Drive, create a park near Town Hall or the schoolhouse, install traffic safety signs and assist with efforts to acquire the Norfolk Southern rail line.

Commissioners will have to wade through those requests and many others to decide what will go on the ballot March 15. All told, the county has more than $100 million in potential SPLOST projects to consider.

SPLOST is a 1 percent sales tax used to fund capital outlay projects or pay down general obligation debt. Collections can occur over five or six years, depending on whether the county has an intergovernmental agreement with the municipalities. If approved by voters, SPLOST 2011 is projected to generate around $57.6 million, if collections take place over six years, or $50.7 million for a five-year collection period.