Politics & Government

Macon-Bibb animal shelter, Tattnall park may get more money

Shuffling sales tax money from one project to another would allow the new Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare Center to open fully equipped and on schedule, the manager of sales tax projects said Monday.

Macon-Bibb County commissioners are scheduled Tuesday morning to consider shifting more than $600,000 from one set of SPLOST projects to two others. Three new fire stations came in slightly under their $12 million budget, so the allocation for those would be cut to nearly $11.4 million, according to the resolution.

The new animal shelter would get $435,000 of the available money.

“That will complete the project,” said Clay Murphey, manager of projects being built with special purpose local option sales tax funds. “That gets them everything they need to turn into a fully operational facility.”

The $190 million SPLOST that Bibb County voters approved in November 2011 included $3 million to replace the current animal shelter. Backers promised a “state of the art” facility, but the design came in over budget. That led to negotiations with the architect and contractor to cut the cost, and it pushed back the purchase of several essential items, Murphey said.

“You don’t have an animal control center without kennels,” he said. Some of the kennels from the existing shelter will be reused, others bought new; and the additional money also will buy a generator as well as central vacuum and pressure-washing systems, Murphey said.

Some exterior work will remain to be done, such as running a fiber-optic connection to the new building on Fulton Mill Road, but the building itself should be finished in December, he said. Murphey said Animal Welfare Director Sarah Tenon plans to open the new shelter soon after the start of 2015.

Separately Tuesday, commissioners will consider buying two trucks for Animal Welfare staff from a different category of SPLOST money. The SPLOST project list also included money for various vehicle purchases. The new trucks are recommended to come from Nextran Truck Center for a total of $75,300.

The money remaining from the fire station budget reduction, $200,000, would go for work in Tattnall Square Park, according to the SPLOST amendment proposal.

The original project list included $500,000 for the park, all of which was spent on the park’s tennis center. That paid for renovating the tennis courts, installing new fences and downward-facing lights, extensive landscaping and wider sidewalks. But the tennis center’s building remained practically untouched.

All of the additional $200,000 would go to the tennis center as well, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said.

In June, Carl Hodge, the tennis manager, said the anticipated money would be used to fix the building’s roof, improve the interior and perhaps build a rooftop wooden observation deck.

There was some talk of replacing the building altogether, but that would cost half a million dollars, he said.

At an afternoon work session Tuesday, Andrew Silver, chairman of Friends of Tattnall Square Park, is scheduled to brief commissioners on the park’s master plan.

No SPLOST money went into the rest of the park, but it has received extensive work from volunteers and private funding.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.