FORSYTH -- Monroe County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to seek a new special purpose local option sales tax -- about two years early.
Voters will consider the planned six-year, $30.65 million SPLOST on March 6, but the SPLOST won’t actually take effect until January 2014, Monroe County Commission Chairman James Vaughn said.
Vaughn said Monroe County voters have always supported such SPLOST initiatives, keeping them in place for the several decades that SPLOSTs have been allowed. He said he expected that the March SPLOST referendum would succeed mostly with word-of-mouth advertising and perhaps some help from the Chamber of Commerce.
The county SPLOST referendum will be held several months before a planned regional transportation SPLOST vote.
If voters approve it, much of the county SPLOST would go toward basic infrastructure. Some $7 million, or nearly a quarter of the money, would go into road improvements across Monroe County. Another $7 million would go to water system improvements.
Other big-ticket items include $3.22 million in water and sewer improvements in Forsyth; $3.1 million in upgrades to the county’s 911 and emergency radio systems; $2.5 million for improvements to the county’s recreational offerings; and $1.5 million for a new fire headquarters station, trucks and ambulances.
Vaughn said the county may have to borrow against future sales-tax proceeds to fix the radio system. The existing wideband VHF system doesn’t meet new federal standards and can’t be used in 2013, Fire Chief Ronald Norris has said.
Vaughn said he expected voters will think that previous SPLOST money has been well spent, such as the highly visible Monroe County Courthouse renovations or the important water system extensions in south Monroe County.
Commissioners agreed to call for the SPLOST referendum in March with little discussion.
But it was also clear at Wednesday’s meeting that the SPLOST won’t meet all the demands.
District Attorney Richard Milam said he has five people working in about 700 square feet, so two secretaries can’t back up their chairs at the same time without colliding. Milam said he’d like 2,000 additional square feet, perhaps through a portable office trailer.
Ralph Bass, chairman of the library board, told commissioners he’s “extremely ambivalent” about the $150,000 in the next SPLOST project list for the Monroe County Library. While the county grew 21 percent in a single decade, the library itself hasn’t grown in 30 years. He said the library would do the best with the financial nourishment it gets, but said “the current allocation, though, hardly meets our future needs.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.