Crawford County residents will be asked to trade a tax on fire hydrants for a 1 percent sales tax.
Most of a proposed special purpose local option sales tax would go toward replacing the fire hydrant fee, which is assessed on all Crawford County properties, even those without county water service, County Manager Pat Kelly said.
The countys water service had been losing money for years and had effectively been subsidized by the general fund. The fire hydrant fee, which is going to $20 per parcel per year, was a stop-gap measure, Kelly said. Commissioners have vowed to remove the hydrant fee if the SPLOST is approved.
Voters in the Nov. 5 election will be asked to approve general obligation bonds -- a kind of loan -- that would pay off about $3 million in outstanding water revenue bonds. Most of the SPLOST itself would go to pay off the new bonds.
Kelly said the goal would be for the proposed SPLOST and a subsequent SPLOST to completely pay off the debt over about a decade.
Novembers vote, if approved, shortens the length of the current debt, it saves over $2.1 million in interest, it eliminates the hydrant fee, and not only does the county water system become self-sufficient, it starts making money, Kelly said. And monies from the water system can be transferred to the general fund, but you cant go the other way.
About 55 percent of the proposed SPLOST would go to toward the bonds for the water system. Another 31 percent would go toward county projects, including road improvements and upgrades to recreation facilities and public safety equipment.
Kelly said most of the countys share of the money would be put toward matching state road improvement grants.
The remaining 14 percent of the SPLOST money would go to the city of Roberta. The city would put that money toward water and sewer upgrades, as well as equipment for public safety.
The governing boards of the city and county agreed to the details Aug. 6. Kelly said officials will likely discuss the SPLOST referendum more in October.
The six-year sales tax would raise about $3 million.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.