WARNER ROBINS — The late Mayor Donald Walker promised a way to subsidize the cost of the city’s new law enforcement center without additional taxes for city residents.
They only had to guarantee his re-election.
As the current mayor and council find themselves wondering how to offset as much as $5 million, they’re probably wondering what Walker had up his sleeve.
In addition to the continuing argument about where the proposed law enforcement center will be built and how large it will be, city officials are charged with coming up with more funding to cover any costs that exceed the $5 million guaranteed through a 2006 special purpose local option sales tax. Amounts mentioned so far have ranged from $7.5 million to more than $10 million.
In August, the City Council voted to add $4 million originally allocated for water and sewer projects through the 2006 SPLOST. That idea quickly fell apart as letters from the county and inquiries into SPLOST projects suggested the move was premature.
Now, as demonstrated by the presence of Adrian Johnson from Wachovia Bank at last week’s called council session, some city officials are looking at bonds as a way to subsidize the project’s remaining cost.
In the past, it has been suggested — because the city is in good shape financially — to offset costs with money from the general fund. Several council members have suggested trying for more SPLOST funds, should another measure go before voters before construction is complete.
“Right now ,we’re figuring out how to pay for it with the resources we have now,” Councilman Bob Wilbanks said Friday.
Efforts to reach Warner Robins Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Gary Lee were unsuccessful last week.
The mayor and council engaged in a heated exchange last week about Jimmy Perkins Field, the proposed site for the new complex, and how other options could present better situations for the city to pursue. But the park is in close proximity to the Homer J. Walker Jr. Municipal Complex, several council members said, allowing the two buildings to be easily wired together and present the beginnings of a government center.
To use the field, the city will need to go through a process with the state and federal governments to lift a restriction on what can currently be built there. Officials say that process could take up to two years to complete.
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Johnson is expected to discuss his company’s possible role in covering the rest of the cost for the law enforcement center.
To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.