Wednesday, October 24, 2012
More than four months remain before voters will decide whether or not to renew SPLOST, the special purpose local option sales tax that funds capital projects countywide.
But county and city officials met last week to consider potential SPLOST-funded projects if a SPLOST referendum is approved next March.
The soon-to-expire 2009 SPLOST earmarks 12.7 percent of collections for Fort Oglethorpe and 4.5 percent to Ringgold with the remainder dedicated to the county’s unincorporated areas and countywide services.
But just as there is no agreement between the cities and county concerning an equitable division of LOST (local option sales tax) collections, the cities are concerned that they are not receiving a fair share of SPLOST revenue.
Catoosa County Commission Chairman Keith Greene likened the lists compiled by Fort Oglethorpe, Ringgold and the county to those he prepared as an elementary school student for Santa Claus.
“I’m still waiting on that train,” he said.
Proposals included more “wishes and wants” than “needs” and those attending the workshop agreed all requests for funding cannot realistically be met. Particularly since SPLOST revenue is expected to total about $56 million over five years but the combined “wish list” calls for expenditures totaling about $161 million.
Phil Parker, public utilities director for Fort Oglethorpe, presented a list of sewer projects that are considered essential projects in the next five-year cycle, as did Ringgold Councilman Randall Franks.
Ringgold’s request is for about $18 million, Fort Oglethorpe’s is about $20 million, while the county, which includes funding courts, a jail, the Sheriff’s Office, 911 operations, a water company, the library and countywide fire protection services, is requesting $123 million.
High-ticket items submitted included replacing 95 vehicles used by the Sheriff’s Office, about double what has been requested in the past; upgrading and perhaps relocating the 911 center; replacing fire apparatus and fire stations; and possibly acquiring a mobile emergency operations center.
The list of potential SPLOST projects also included the repair or rebuilding of a long list of streets and roads, allocating funds to recreation associations and acquiring more materials for the library.
The chairman said those attending the workshop had “just scratched the surface” in figuring out what is essential and what is not.
“I’d like to see a prioritized list of ‘needed’ projects,” Greene said.