If voters agree in November to continue the trickle of pennies for county improvements, then local leaders expect to have roughly $13.2 million over six years to use for a variety of projects.
But exactly what projects? Well, that has yet to be decided. County commissioners have received requests from various departments and elected officials for potential uses of funds from the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST).
No date has been set to officially determine a SPLOST project list, but the board of commissioners will hold an all-day work session on the 2020 budget June 14, beginning at 8:30 a.m., and will then meet again on the budget June 21. Those talks may include some SPLOST discussions.
“We have until June 24 to try to come to a consensus and vote in a timely manner,” said commission chairman John Scarborough at the BOC’s June 3 meeting.
County commissioners seemed to agree that public safety tops their priority list.
“Public safety, infrastructure and the future,” said commissioner Theresa Bettis. The District 3 commissioner also said she would love to see a community center/gymnasium and noted that a private donor is willing to make a substantial contribution to go along with SPLOST funds for such a project.
The county plans to allocate $1.5 million to be divided among the local municipalities for town improvements.
Here is a look at other proposed options. These have not been approved. They are only being considered:
•The road department requests $6 million in the 2020 SPLOST, down from $6,487,500 in 2014.
•The sheriff’s office is requesting $2,535,000 for improvements at the jail, including a 16-inmate dorm and upgrades in the kitchen and laundry areas. The sheriff’s office is also requesting $450,000 to replace five vehicles per year. The sheriff’s office received $681,667 in the 2014 SPLOST.
•The industrial authority is seeking $1.8 million to fund infrastructure improvements in Madison County over the next six years. The group received $1,422,500 in the 2014 SPLOST.
•The 11 volunteer fire departments and rescue service are seeking $2 million in sales tax funds, up from $1,033,333 in the 2014 SPLOST. Fire officials say that a wide array of equipment items and vehicles are woefully outdated.
•EMS is requesting $1,530,000, up from $755,833 in 2014. This includes money for four projects: two ambulances per year at a cost of $170,000 per ambulance; a Comer station for EMS at a cost of $180,000; an Ila station for EMS at a cost of $180,000 (that current station is housed in the Ila Volunteer Fire Department); and maintenance of existing EMS stations at a cost of $150,000.
•The board of elections is seeking $171,765 in sales tax funds for upgrades in voting equipment, which will include a paper trail. This is up from $0 in the 2014 SPLOST.
•The coroner is requesting $140,000 in SPLOST funding for a four-door vehicle with a storage cooler to transport decedents to the crime lab.
•The recreation department is seeking $1.5 million for a community center/gymnasium. The department is also seeking another $543,000 in various improvements, maintenance, paving and equipment upgrades at existing facilities. The recreation department received $227,500 in the 2014 SPLOST.
•The transfer station is seeking $75,000 to replace aging equipment. That’s down from $84,167 in 2014.
•The BOC is considering $42,000 for the restoration of the old county courthouse. That is the same figure approved in 2014.
•The Madison County Extension Office is requesting $35,000 for the purchase of a truck. The office didn’t receive any funds in the 2014 SPLOST
•Local realtor Bill Fleeman has asked the commissioners to consider purchasing 71 acres on Hwy. 172 for $700,000 for a county park with a walkway in the woods, bird watching, nature trail, ball fields and water sports at a 50-acre lake.