Valdosta Daily Times

July 28, 2013

County details SPLOST expenditures

Kay Harris
The Valdosta Daily Times

LOWNDES COUNTY — As arguments continue in the state Supreme Court that will ultimately decide the LOST (local option sales tax) split between Valdosta and Lowndes County, the local governments are forging ahead with time running out to renew the SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) for a seventh time.

The city has already voted on its list, while county commissioners are still mulling over theirs. This week at their meeting, the commission unveiled its proposed plan, which will be voted on in August and appear on the November ballot as a referendum.

If it fails to pass again, the one-cent sales tax will stop being collected on Jan. 1, 2014.

While the city’s list is dominated by the relocation of the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, the county’s list is spread evenly throughout the various departments, concentrating on essential repairs and replacement. According to County Manager Joe Pritchard, the county’s allocations include:

• Roads, Streets and Bridges: $26,839,000. Paving dirt roads and replacing bridges in the county deemed unsafe by the state.

• Water/Sewer: $17,560,500. Replacing heavy equipment, including motor graders, infrastructure repair and maintenance.

• Public Safety: $10,784,500. Pritchard said there is a critical need for a new evidence storage facility for the sheriff’s office, along with improvements to the 911 Center, the public safety radio system, animal shelter repairs, and replacement of sheriff’s office vehicles.

• Parks and Recreation: $3,500,000. According to Pritchard, part of the dollars will be used for a soccer facility, as well as a community center in Naylor, a boat ramp on the Alapaha, basketball courts at Freedom Park and a Miracle Field, a public-private partnership for special needs youth and adults to accommodate wheelchairs and their unique needs.

• General Facility Improvements: $3,732,000. With the defeat of the SPLOST in 2012, the plans to replace the main library were scrapped, so about $1.5 million from this area are to repair the roof, the HVAC system and clean up the building’s mold problems.

The continued renovation of the county courthouse and civic center repairs are included as well.

Pritchard said commissioners are welcoming input from citizens before they cast their vote on the final list in the coming weeks.