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SPLOST to fund $17M for roads

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

Editor's Note: This is the final story in a multi-part series on projects that will be funded if SPLOST 2011 is approved by voters in the March 15 Special Election. The SPLOST is expected to generate $57.6 million over a six-year collection period.

COVINGTON — By far, the greatest amount of SPLOST dollars will be spent on transportation projects. A total of nearly $17.3 million has been designated for that purpose, not including the various transportation projects on individual city lists.

A few days ago, commissioners agreed on the projects that will benefit. The list includes resurfacing of portions of the following county roads:

SPLOST Facts

Facts about SPLOST:

• A Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is a county-wide 1 percent sales tax on items subject to state sales tax and use.

• If SPLOST 2011 is not approved, at least one year must pass before another referendum can take place.

• All projects will get a pro rata share of funds as they come in. The county did not prioritize projects, but some of the cities did. For example, the city of Covington listed airport improvements as priority one and transportation projects as second priority. Funds will be expended on priority one projects first.

• If collections of SPLOST 2011 exceed the projected $57.6 million, the excess funds will be applied to pay off county debt.

• SPLOST 2005 expires June 30 and county officials say it will likely generate slightly more than the $58 million projected. Any excess funds will be used to pay down debt on the Newton County Administration Building. If SPLOST 2011 is approved by voters, collections will continue uninterrupted.

Projects to be funded by SPLOST 2011 are:

• Jail pods debt service - $3 million

• Administrative building debt service - $5 million

• Judicial Center expansion and renovation - $7 million

• Upgrade of parks: $1 million

• Miracle Field: $1.5 million

• District 4 improvements, including parks, a community center and indigent cemetery $1.1 million

• Renovation of Animal Control Center: $100,000

• Design and renovation of Juvenile Court facility: $500,000

• Historic Jail: $1.2 million

• Agricultural Facility, design and construction and possible land purchase: $1.1 million

• Fire Station No. 8: $1.1 million

• Expansion of hospital emergency room: $4 million

• Landfill debt service retirement: $500,000

• Public works equipment: $500,000

• County vehicle replacement: $2.5 million

• Fire services: $100,000

• Road improvements: $17.28 million

• City of Covington: $7.46 million - $6.96 million for transportation; $500,000 for airport

• Porterdale: $830,000 - $140,000 for recreation; $450,000 for design and renovation of Porterdale Gym; $240,000 for transportation

• Oxford: $1.23 million for water system improvements

• Mansfield: $252,630 for transportation

• Newborn: $336,840 - $117,840 transportation; $100,000 recreation; $119,000 community center

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. To find your polling location, call 770-784-2055 or visit the Secretary of State's website at www.sos.ga.gov and click on "My Voter Page."

• Moores Road/Rocky Plains Road

• Kirkland Road

• Cook Road

• County Road 213

• Mt. Tabor/Sockwell roads

• Dixie Road

• Loyd Road

• Kellogg Street

• School Street

Some roads in the following subdivisions will also be resurfaced:

• Camerons Landing

• Laurel Ridge

• Mountainview Estates

• Somerset Springs

• Alcovy Crossing

• Highlands Forest

• Melody Farms

• Settlers Grove

Also on the list is the replacement of Oak Hill Road bridge; culvert replacement on Crowell Road; Pace Street improvements; Mt. Tabor bridge improvements; Edwards Road bridge replacement; Livingston Road/Veal Road improvements; and Industrial Boulevard improvements from U.S. Highway 278 to Walmart.

Due to the Board of Education's decision to build new schools, an estimated $3.5 million road improvements will also have to be made to Crowell Road and Airport Road at Ga. Highway 142 and Ga. Highway 81. The county is responsible for road improvements pertaining to new schools.

Construction costs for all those projects total more than $28 million, with the estimated county share that will be funded through SPLOST at $15.5 million.

Tier 2 projects will be funded out of whatever is left over and includes the widening of Crowell and Brown Bridge roads and intersection improvements or widening along Salem Road.

The cost for those projects is estimated at more than $90 million, with the county expected to have to foot more than $28 million. SPLOST funds will only pay for a portion of work for the projects, which still appear to be several years away from getting the green light from the DOT. The money could be used for design work that must be completed before construction can begin.

The resolution passed by commissioners specifies that construction costs may change and completion and timing of the projects will depend on actual costs as well as the availability of matching funds, including participation by DOT, the city of Covington and use of impact fees.

"I think that flexibility is critical, because I've seen a lot of projects come and go in the last two years," said Chairman Kathy Morgan.

Morgan said the county was able to supplement local funds with state and federal dollars to complete projects on the 2005 SPLOST list and, "That's my goal with this list."