Newton SPLOST committee to hear funding applications in May

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COVINGTON, Georgia. – The Newton County SPLOST Oversight Committee has learned it will likely work overtime to hear applications for inclusion in the SPLOST renewal vote scheduled for 2023.

They were also updated on the status of projects recently added to the 2017 voter-approved list.

County Projects Consultant Jeff Prine told committee members on Monday, April 11 that the Board of Commissioners recently voted to distribute the $19 million SPLOST 2017 is expected to produce on top of the original $65 million. of dollars.

New projects included the renovation of the Washington Street Community Center and construction of the Yellow River Trail, for which the county is working with a private developer to build the first phase near the old Oaks golf course, Prine said.

Others include the final phase of Denny Dobbs Park skate park, which can likely be completed by October; and construction of a Westside Youth Facility at Fairview Community Park and Springhill Park near Lower River Road — for which the county will issue requests for proposals for design services, Prine said.

He said the designs for both could be completed by the end of this year and their construction will be auctioned in early 2023.

On the 2023 SPLOST, committee chair Baxter Bouchillon said the 1% sales tax — a continuation of the 2017 SPLOST — is expected to yield about $108 million over its six-year lifespan if approved by voters in the November 8 general election.

He said the county is in negotiations with the six cities about what percentages of the funds each will receive if SPLOST is renewed. If the current split is used, the county would receive about $80 million of the total, Bouchillon said.

Bouchillon told committee members that he recommends the list of projects include five categories: basic infrastructure, quality of life, debt reduction, public safety and economic development.

He said he expected the committee to meet twice a week in May to hear from all county departments and others seeking to be part of the funding.

“It’s kind of the once-in-six-year thing,” Bouchillon said.

Department heads were given a May 2 deadline for their project recommendations for funding. Projects must meet the requirements of the state’s SPLOST law, he said.

Bouchillon said the committee’s goal is to recommend a final list of projects to the council of commissioners by its June 7 meeting – after which the council can make changes to the list and approve it ahead of the renewal vote. on the Newton County ballot.

The county government is asking for suggestions from community members and organizations for projects for SPLOST at https://www.co.newton.ga.us/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=4474.

Bouchillon also noted that Newton’s Chamber of Commerce “took the ball and ran with it” to get feedback on the SPLOST project slate. House Speaker Debbie Harper, an ad hoc member of the committee, said a poll was included in a newsletter sent to its members.

He said committee members could allocate a fifth of the $80 million to projects in each of the five categories.

However, Prine noted that County Transportation Manager Chester Clegg still has to submit his project applications that will likely far exceed the $16 million a one-fifth split would produce.

He said Clegg would likely recommend funding to widen the busy Brown Bridge Road from its current two lanes by adding an intermediate turning lane – a project that will cost more than $16 million.

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