With SPLOST VII on the ballot come November, Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson outlined the city’s proposed spending plan last Tuesday at the City Council’s work session.
If SPLOST VII passes, it will run six years, from April 1, 2014 through March 30, 2020. It is estimated that in these six years, SPLOST VII would bring in $150 million, to be allocated to Valdosta, Lowndes County, Hahira, Remerton, Dasher and Lake Park, with Valdosta receiving 53.35 percent, or roughly $80 million.
The proposed spending plan for Valdosta is broken down into nine categories: engineering, police, fire, parks and recreation, water and sewer, public works, administration, downtown and Mathis Auditorium. Hanson emphasized that the proposal can change between now and November depending on feedback.
Engineering would receive $12.6 million. Two million of that would go to resurfacing roads, while another $4 million would to go improving four specific roads: Martin Luther King Drive (from Ashley Street to Oak Street), North Patterson Street (from Gordon to Magnolia), Gornto Road (widening the road to three lanes from Sugar Creek to the railroad) and South Troup Street (from Hill Avenue to Griffin Avenue). Three million would go to drainage improvements: constructing two new retention facilities at West End Drive Pond and Hightower Circle Pond, retrofitting and upgrading existing inlet and outlet control structures at Browns Canal Pond, constructing a grade control structure at Hightower Creek, and acquiring LiDAR and aerial photography and continuing to address regional flooding.
Of the remaining $3.6 million, $200,000 would go to intersection improvements, $350,000 to street maintenance repairs, $300,000 to piping of ditches, $750,000 to traffic improvements, and $2 million to sidewalk improvements throughout the city.
The majority of the $3 million allocated to the Valdosta Police Department would go toward upgrades and replacements. Half of the 3 million would go toward an upgrade of the countywide radio system. A new in-car video system would replace the current system for $500,000 and replacements for walkie-talkies would run $550,000. Generators for the Valdosta Police Department and the crime lab would be $130,000.
The rest ($320,000) would go toward a new firearms simulator, replacement shotguns and security racks for them, upgrading command vehicle consoles, purchasing replacement tactical equipment (body armor, gas masks, etc.) and remodeling the Investigations Bureau.