There’s more than just paving and water/sewer projects on the City of Alma’s SPLOST wish list this time around.
While infrastructure improvements are always tops on the list, the mayor and council have a included a couple of “fun” items this time around — new seats for the Bacon Theatre, park improvements and a splash pad for the community’s kids.
At a special called meeting last week, the council discussed a list of projects to put before the voters in November’s penny sales tax referendum. The list includes:
• street paving,
• a new water well and tank,
• improvements to sewer lift stations,
• a sewer jet-vac truck,
• new seats for the theatre,
• improvements for the city’s parks,
• new police and other city vehicles;
• computer upgrades, and
• a splash pad.
“This is not a final list. It’s a starting point,” Alma City Manager Al Crace told the council. “We need to be sure and allow for some flexibility in our projects down the road.”
Although no joint city/county projects are planned for this SPLOST, Alma and Bacon County will enter into an intergovernmental agreement on how to split the proceeds of the tax.
“The county doesn’t want any joint projects, either,” Crace said. “They are a headache for all of us.”
Bacon County Hospital has also asked for a slice of the sales tax pie to complete renovations at the Twin Oaks Convalescent Center. Councilman Jerry Sweat wondered where those funds would come from.
“I am going to recommend the city and county each pay them out shares,” Crace said. “And, we can offer them the ABC Day Care Center, in lieu of cash, or we’d have to cut back on the city project list.”
The city manager said he believes $7.2 million is a “reasonable forecast” for the 2018 SPLOST.
“The last 18 to 24 months about $100,000 a month was collected, for a total of $7.2 million over the six years,” he said. “Under the agreement in place, the city saw about $3.2 million of that.”
The city manager and council members also want to make sure their agreement with the county includes when the city will receive their sales tax payments.
“The county has withheld some payments in the past, but we got that straightened out and caught up,” Crace said. “They were under the impression they are the parent and we are the child, and they can tell us how we are to spend our share of the SPLOST.”
“That is not legally so. The city answers to the state and to the courts for how we spend our share of the sales tax, not to the county.”
Bacon County voters will have to approve the SPLOST referendum in this year’s general election. The city is hoping to continue the current split of 68 percent to the county and 32 percent to the city.
If passed, the sales tax will begin being collected on July 1, 2018, when the current SPLOST expires, and run through June 20, 2024. The current (2012) SPLOST did well, and should bring in at least $1 million more than originally projected.
Also during the called meeting, the city discussed which city streets to include on their 2018 Local Maintenance and Improvement (LMIG) list. It includes portions of N. Worth St., Meadow Rd., Dykes and Johnson Sts., Flora Ln., N. Baker, N. Ware, and E. 18th, E. 11th, and E. 6th Sts.
The city will have to match any funds received from the state DOT at 30 percent, and wants to use SPLOST funds to complete the projects.
The council also learned they have two candidates for the open city attorney’s job. Local Sam Edgar and Thomas Peterson, of Vidalia, have offered for the position.