COVINGTON -- It's about time Newton County got some good financial news: Revenues from SPLOST 2005 exceeded projections by more than $2.8 million.
Collections totaled $61,659,849. The six-year SPLOST was expected to bring in $58.8 million. The additional funds will go to pay remaining costs of constructing the administrative building, as agreed upon by the board and stipulated by resolution. The money is not enough to fully pay off the building.
John Middleton, the county's administrative officer, said officials were purposely conservative in their estimates.
"The biggest thing that drove us in that direction was planning for the unplanned," he said.
The board was mindful of the prior SPLOST, which did not generate as much in revenues as anticipated in the wake of Sept. 11, he said.
Commissioners have publicly credited Middleton for the success of the SPLOST.
"I want to thank you for your conservative projections and for keeping us on the straight and narrow all these years," Commissioner Mort Ewing recently said after commissioners heard that revenues would exceed expectations.
Middleton said many Georgia counties have fallen short of their SPLOST estimates, having opted to take a more aggressive approach on revenue projections.
The majority of projects for SPLOST 2005 have been completed or nearly completed. The exception is the downtown civic center, which has not been started due to lack of other funding sources. A total of $5 million in SPLOST revenues was allocated to the project, which was intended to be a public/private venture. The county has five years after the expiration of SPLOST 2005, which would be June 30, 2016, to complete the project or let the voters decide how to re-allocate those funds.
The first phase of renovation of the historic jail is finished, with SPLOST 2011 to cover the remaining phases.
A few transportation projects are still unfinished, including the paving of Gaither Road and the Ga. Highway 81 and Crowell Road intersection. A total of $20 million was allocated for transportation projects.
Projects completed include a new mechanic shop for public works; a new cell at the landfill; the administrative office building, although paying off that building is still ongoing; Cousins Gym renovation; new radio and data communications systems for E911; Nelson Heights Community Center; purchase of Meadors property for additional parking at the judicial center; purchase of greenspace property bordering Gum Creek Road, property on Dover Road and allocation of $10,000 to the Newton County Trails-Path Foundation to assist with the Oxford Trail System.
The cities are at various phases of spending their allocations, but nearly $3.7 million of almost $5.5 million allocated to municipalities has been spent.
Meanwhile, collections on the 2011 SPLOST are going better than expected, Middleton said, with revenues at $899,000 and over. Monthly collections need to be at $800,000 to collect $57.6 million over the next six years. Middleton noted however that collections could decrease or flatline at any time. Collections for the 2005 SPLOST exceeded projections the first three years and bottomed out in fiscal year 2009 before picking back up the final two years.