Local leaders to hammer out SPLOST projects

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- In a rare joint meeting of the city and county commissions, local leaders will finalize lists of 1-percent sales tax projects today before calling for a referendum next month.

Commissioners, along with city and county staff, have been piecing together projects to be funded using the $97 million in revenues expected to be gleaned from the renewal of a 1-percent sales tax over the next six years.

Local leaders are on a fixed timetable that will ultimately lead them to a November referendum, when voters will decide whether to renew the tax or not.

The city, which is expecting to pull in roughly $62.7 million for its share of SPLOST 6, currently has a proposed project list that includes several big-ticket items like

$3.9 million for the local match to federal funding for a new terminal at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

Their list also includes $7 million for the repairs and construction of the Broad Avenue Bridge, $5 million for storm water improvements and street resurfacing, $4 million for a new transit and maintenance facility and $3.3 million for added demolition of blighted properties.

In addition to those projects recommended by City Manager Alfred Lott and staff, commissioners themselves were each allocated $1.2 million to put toward projects they deemed worthy of inclusion in the list.

Albany Mayor Willie Adams put his entire $1.2 million toward the construction of the SOWEGA Council on Aging's new senior center, while Ward 1 Commissioner Jon Howard put his $1.2 million toward alley paving and the construction of a community swimming pool in East Albany.

Ward 3 Commissioner and Mayor Pro-tem Christopher Pike has divided his allocation among funding for renovations at the Ritz Cultural Center, improvements at Thronateeska Heritage Museum, sidewalk repair and replacement, and historic preservation.

Ward 4 Commissioner Roger Marietta has put the brunt of his money, $1.1 million, to Darton College, where he works as a professor. The remaining $100,000 is heading to the senior center project.

Ward 5 Commissioner Bob Langstaff is allocating his full allotment, $1.2 million, to an Albany Police Department Technology Project.

Commissioners Dorothy Hubbard and Tommie Postell had not declared where their funding was to go as of this report, although they and the rest of the commission is set to meet this morning at 9 a.m. to finish up their discussions before meeting with the county at 2 p.m.

On the county's side, the single biggest ticket item is $5 million allocated for improvements at the Central Library downtown.

The list also includes $335,000 for the purchase of mobile data terminals for the Dougherty County Police Department, $310,000 to buy 8,000 feet of fire hose and transport equipment in a move designed to help lower some county residents' insurance rates, $810,000 for parks improvements and $6 million for road improvements.

In total, the county has budgeted a total of $35.7 million worth of projects for the next six years.

To see the full lists of proposed projects and to read Herald reporter J.D. Sumner's blog about what wasn't included in the lists, go to www.albanyherald.com