County commission not slowing down as consolidation approaches

July 17, 2013 

The Bibb County Commission has embarked on an aggressive effort to upgrade the county’s recreation infrastructure. It has purchased a 20-acre plot of land facing Rocky Creek Road that was the former home of Gilead Baptist Church and Gilead Christian Academy. The property is adjacent to Bloomfield Recreation Center that was already slated to receive $2 million from special purpose local option sales tax funds set aside for recreation purposes.

Once again the value of passing the last SPLOST is being made evident. The county could not have afforded to sweeten the pot for the almost 1 million-square-foot Tractor Supply distribution center off Interstate 75 without the SPLOST funds put in for economic development, nor could it have afforded the massive upgrades needed to bring aging recreational facilities into the 21st century.

The Gilead property will allow the county’s recreation department to offer more diverse programming in a neighborhood that could certainly utilize such programming in conjunction with the Bibb County School System. In another move, the county plans to issue $13 million in bonds for several projects. One of the most visible will be a boulevard between the Wilson Convention Center and the Ocmulgee National Monument. Connecting the two had been in the plans when a convention hotel was first proposed on the other side of the street from where the Marriott is located. This may provide the impetus needed for the Ocmulgee Monument to provide another entrance to the mounds.

Another project will provide additional record storage space at the old Sears location (The downtown Sears location was closed in 1975 with the opening of the Macon Mall). The location will also free up space in several other Bibb County departments. There is one drawback to these moves just before the new consolidated government rolls out in January. The bond payments, both principal and interest, will run just shy of $1 million a year. The new consolidated government has a soft target of reducing costs by 5 percent per year over a five year period. The idea that the new government can cut substantial costs immediately is a myth, however, the idea should bear fruit in the decades to come.

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