Leesburg OKs SPLOST list

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Step one of Lee County's planned Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax VI referendum was completed Tuesday when the Leesburg City Council tentatively voted to approve the city's SPLOST list.

The list will be formally accepted after a final review by City Attorney Bert Gregory.

City leaders also heard the first reading of a new mixed-drink referendum approved by voters Nov. 2. Gregory recommended that the council hold a second reading at its January meeting so that any questions about the ordinance may be addressed.

"There are a number of issues that this ordinance addresses," Gregory said. "Like the county's, it allows for mixed drinks to be served during legal hours -- which I believe are 12:30 p.m. to midnight -- on Sundays, and it lends itself to an entirely new application and fee. You have to determine that fee before the referendum is passed, and I suggest you keep it around the same as the fee for beer and wine (licenses)."

Councilwoman Judy Powell said the city's Planning, Development and Zoning Committee had recommended having the Southwest Georgia Regional Center review city planning and zoning codes to bring them more in line with county codes.

"There are some areas where our codes are different that can be confusing," Powell said.

Gregory said that while it is necessary for the city to have some different ordinances, other areas should be more in line with the county.

"It makes sense in areas where there are a lot of similarities to have similar ordinances," he said. "It especially makes sense to match county codes in areas where the county is in charge of enforcement."

Mayor Jim Quinn, responding to Councilwoman Rhonda Futch's contention that the city and county should "remain separate in some areas," said any revamping of city codes would be based on common sense.

"Some of the inconsistencies (between city and county codes) are there because the county made changes after the last time we updated our codes," Quinn said. "Some are minor differences that should be more in line, but there are others that need to be different."

The council heard a request from Traci Henry, the mother of a special-needs child whose efforts won a $50,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant that she will use to build a playground designed for special-needs youngsters, asking for guidance on moving forward with that project.

"I've been told that it's unheard-of for any group to win (a Pepsi grant) in just two months, but we had a lot of people supporting us," Henry said. "I'm forming a playground committee now -- which I'd like some of you to be on -- and I expect to have the full $50,000 in hand by the end of the month.

"We have about an acre of land that's been donated, and I've found a CPA, a lawyer, a landscaper and an architect who are volunteering their services. We've had concrete and sand donated, and someone has volunteered anonymously to build the steel frames for the equipment. We have a long list of volunteers that's overwhelming; I'd like to have it so that we can spend all of the money on the playground equipment."