Social Circle City Council finalizes list of items for next SPLOST

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- The Social Circle City Council has finalized its list of spending priorities should Walton County voters approve another sales tax referendum next year.

Walton County's current special purpose local option sales tax is set to expire at the end of 2012. A referendum will be placed before the voters on Nov. 8 for another 1 percent sales tax that would begin in 2013.

The next SPLOST is expected to generate approximately $60 million in Walton County over five years. Social Circle's portion of that is to be about $3.1 million.

City Manager Doug White proposed the city allocate those funds as follows:

* $1 million for public safety improvements;

* $750,000 for roads, sidewalks and drainage improvements;

* $500,000 for library improvements and expansion;

* $500,000 for water and sewer improvements; and

* $250,000 for playgrounds and recreation projects.

Included in the public safety improvements is the construction of a fire station. White said he had considered adjusting the recommended amount for public safety because Walton County is planning to construct a fire station near Hard Labor Creek, an area currently covered by Social Circle. However, White said, the city still needs a station near the new General Mills distribution center. He said there is sufficient land there to build a station and a three-story water tower.

White said Social Circle has an Insurance Services Office rating of Class 4, but a three-story tower that could be used for training purposes could go toward increasing that rating to a Class 3.

An ISO rating of a community can affect the insurance premiums individuals and business owners pay on their homes and commercial buildings.

Councilman David Keener said he learned in one of the local government seminars he recently attended that moving from a Class 4 to a Class 3 does not have a noticeable effect on insurance rates.

"From what I understand, as the rating goes down from 10 to 4, a 4 is good and communities need to be concerned about holding on to a Class 4 rating," he said. "A Class 3, 2 or 1, there is absolutely no change to the community. It's just bragging rights to other communities, but as far as citizens are concerned, we just need to stay at 4."

Keener said major industries can negotiate with their insurance providers for better premiums that are not based solely on the city's ISO rating.

"Yes, there are incentives to stay at 4, but to drive it down, to spend a million dollars just to get to 3 is not a wise decision," he said.

In light of this, the council discussed whether to shift some of the allocations to bump up the amount of sales tax money to be spent for roads. However, they agreed that building a new station was needed for public safety whether or not it affected the ISO rating.

In other news, the City Council approved a change to the local ordinance reducing the waiting period before properties could be demolished.

"The waiting period for historic properties has been from reduced from six months to one month, and the waiting period reduced from two months for nonhistoric properties to one month," said City Attorney Lee Abney.

The City Council approved spending more than $12,000 for utilities equipment. The Council unanimously approved purchasing a camera with DVD monitoring for the city's wastewater collection system for $8,800. The Council also approved purchasing a $3,560 electrofusion machine for the city's gas system.