Houston, Warner Robins officials explain impact of proposed SPLOST

jburk@macon.comJanuary 25, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Economic development, public safety and recreation are just some of the areas that will benefit if a proposed continuation of Houston County’s penny sales tax passes, according to a Tuesday presentation given to Warner Robins Rotary Club members.

Houston County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker, along with public safety and recreation department heads, explained how they would be affected by the passage of the proposed $155 million special purpose local option sales tax. Voters will decide the fate of the tax March 6.

Economic development is of special importance, Stalnaker said. Budgeted at $28.9 million, economic development makes up 19 percent of the proposed SPLOST budget. That includes money for property acquisition to address encroachment at Robins Air Force Base and land acquisition and infrastructure improvements for industrial development.

Stalnaker said the county’s tax digest cannot hold up without more industrial development.

“We have got to be proactive rather than reactive when its comes to industrial development,” he said.

Public safety would receive about $37.5 million in the proposed SPLOST.

Houston County Sheriff Cullen Talton said he’s asking for expansion and records storage at the sheriff’s office as well as a 40-bed mental health unit at the jail, among other items.

“Mental health is one of the biggest problems at the jail,” Talton said. “We need a place to keep these mental people segregated from the population.”

Warner Robins Police Chief Brett Evans said about $4.4 million would go toward the city’s law enforcement center, and $2.5 million would be used to buy vehicles and equipment.

Evans said the money for vehicles would allow the city to buy 10 cars for five years in a row, so the police department can start a maintenance rotation for the vehicles.

The SPLOST also would fund upgrades for the police training facility and expansion of the animal shelter.

Warner Robins Fire Chief Robert Singletary said one of his biggest needs is a new fire station, which would be built on the south end of the city. The fire department also would add two trucks and update its training facility if the SPLOST passes.

In terms of recreation, which would receive about $8.7 million, Warner Robins Recreation Department Director James Dodson said his department resides in the oldest city building and needs repairs and storage space. The city also is asking for upgrades to its athletic fields, restrooms, tennis courts and swimming pools, he said.

“We’re not asking for wants. We’re asking for needs,” he said.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.

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