Macon-Bibb County could begin holding a series of public meetings in upcoming months for special purpose local option sales tax projects.
On Tuesday, the County Commission discussed a timeline for holding meetings and developing a list of SPLOST projects that could go before Macon-Bibb residents for a vote later this year. The commission's Committee of the Whole agreed to begin seeking proposals from agencies that could assist in the process of compiling the list. Officials estimate the tax could generate $180 million in revenue over a six-year period.
The current SPLOST has been used to pay for projects such as the construction of an animal shelter and fire stations, upgrades to multiple recreation projects and stormwater improvements, among numerous other items. A new SPLOST referendum is expected to be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Commissioners said they want to start hosting a series of public meetings in April or May. Prior to that, the county will get proposals from agencies including the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia and the Middle Georgia Regional Commission to help with the process.
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"I think making sure we have someone organizing us by structuring our conversation will make sure we stay at the table and walk away with results," Commissioner Virgil Watkins said.
Commissioner Elaine Lucas suggested the county host four meetings in different Macon neighborhoods and have a final one at the Government Center.
The goal would be to have the list finalized by late July in order to notify the elections office in time, Mayor Robert Reichert said.
One of the preliminary lists outlines $28 million for public safety, $32 million for culture and recreation, and $43 million for roads and storm drainage projects. Some commissioners balked at the list only having $15 million dedicated to blight.
COMMITTEE SUPPORTS ENDING STREET LIGHT FEES
A plan to end street light fees paid by some Macon-Bibb residents passed through committee Tuesday.
The resolution aims to end the fees paid by nearly 6,000 households within the former unincorporated Bibb County. If approved by the full commission next week, the county would take over street light costs in the next fiscal year that begins July 1.
Currently, the county pays for street lights within the former city limits. The fee is expected to bring in about $330,000 in revenue this year, with about $280,000 going to utility companies.
The resolution is an attempt to continue to equalize services for all residents since consolidation, county officials said.
"We've got a long way to go with trying to light every area of the county, but this is a start," Reichert said.
CITY AUDITORIUM RENOVATIONS MOVE FORWARD
The commission's Operations and Finance Committee voted to use $150,000 for immediate renovations to the Macon City Auditorium.
The resolution comes a couple weeks after commissioners were informed that an estimated $15 million worth of repairs are needed at the landmark downtown building. County officials are expected to look into various methods to pay for the repairs, including the possibility of the auditorium being a part of the next round of SPLOST projects.
To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623 or find him on Twitter@stan_telegraph.