It was a busy 2018 in Macon-Bibb County for special sale tax projects ranging from public safety to recreation to road infrastructure.
Millions of dollars coming from special purpose local option sales tax revenue have been used on projects that were either completed or are underway by the end of 2018. There’s also another group of SPLOST projects coming down the pipeline in 2019.
The current SPLOST collection cycle will run until $280 million is collected from the penny-on-the-dollar tax. A few of the SPLOST projects in 2018 were paid for with revenue from the previous $190 million SPLOST.
“The penny tax has proven to be a huge boon to us and in making sure we continue to grow as a vibrant community,” Chris Floore, Macon-Bibb’s director of public affairs, said n an email. “I shudder to think of where we would be if people had not approved this massive investment, one that is paid for primarily by people driving into and through Macon-Bibb. We would be decades behind where we are today, in terms of facilities, recreation, roads, and economic development.”
Upgrades to Macon-Bibb’s recreational offerings has been one of the largest components of the SPLOST.
In total, roughly $75 million will have been spent on parks and recreation and community centers from the 2012 and 2018 SPLOSTs.
The largest addition to the recreational scene is the $10 million South Bibb Recreation Center, a 35,000-square-foot Houston Road facility that opened in May.
Construction is underway on the $4.4 million second phase that will add more than 20 tennis courts as well as splash pads, multipurpose fields, a playground, expanded parking and more.
Also, downtown Macon’s Central City Park has also undergone major changes in recent years courtesy of SPLOST revenue. Just in 2018, the $2.5 million Luther Williams Field renovation was completed in time for the start of the first Macon Bacon baseball season.
Central City also became the home of the $2.7 million Elaine H. Lucas Senior Center that opened in November and a competition bowl is almost ready to open at Central City’s skate park.
And the county-owned Bowden Golf Course reopened this fall after undergoing landscaping improvements, redesigned greens and other work courtesy of $480,000 in SPLOST funds.
Construction has also begun to rebuild the baseball fields at West Macon Park with $560,000 of the remaining 2012 special sales tax proceeds paying for some of the improvements.
And as for public safety, SPLOST projects were highlighted this year with the opening in December of a dual sheriff’s precinct and fire station complex off Napier Avenue.
Some other special sales tax money in 2018 has also been used to purchase equipment and vehicles for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office and Macon-Bibb Fire Department.
And another round of renovations to The Grand Opera House were finished in 2018 as $1 million in SPLOST was used to expand the lobby and restrooms, add video monitors, install windows and more.
There is also $35 million of the current SPLOST dedicated to roads and other transportation projects.
Roadwork began in 2018 on the long-awaited Jeffersonville Road expansion that will consist of new lanes, a rebuilt bridge, new sidewalks and more.
The majority of the funding is coming from federal and state transportation money while Macon-Bibb is also contributing $520,000 of special sales tax revenue.
There was also SPLOST funds used to begin engineering work on a Bass Road project, $1 million for electric buses and charging stations for the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority while another $2 million went to stormwater repairs that were performed by the Macon Water Authority, according to SPLOST project manager Clay Murphey.
Commissioners are expected to decide in 2019 whether to pay for the construction of a roundabout leading into the Navicent Health downtown campus as well as road and safety improvements by Middle Georgia State campus.