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SPLOST funds can't be used for multimodal station, officials say

City Attorney Nathan Davis speaks to the city commission Tuesday. Davis believes that $4 million in SPLOST dollars approved by the voters in 2010 can't be used for a controversial multimodal center.

City Attorney Nathan Davis speaks to the city commission Tuesday. Davis believes that $4 million in SPLOST dollars approved by the voters in 2010 can't be used for a controversial multimodal center.

ALBANY, Ga. — Albany city commissioners learned Tuesday that $4 million in special sales tax proceeds originally designated to help build a new transit facility near downtown likely can't be used for that project, threatening the future of the project and leaving commissioners with more questions about the controversial project.

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During an update of the project during Tuesday's work session, Assistant City Manager Wes Smith told commissioners that City Attorney Nathan Davis had rendered an opinion that $4 million that was approved by voters in a 2010 referendum can not be used for a multimodal bus terminal because of a 2008 court case from Columbus.

In that case, the court ruled that resolutions adopted by local governments can be used to determine the intent of how SPLOST dollars will be used. Previously only language on the ballot dictated how the funds would be spent and was often intentionally left vague.

However, an intergovernmental agreement between the Dougherty County Commission and the City of Albany outlining SPLOST VI, lists $4 million for a transportation maintenance facility not a transit facility, which prompted Davis' opinion.

Stripping $4 million from the project shocked some on the commission Tuesday who had just learned the cost of the four sites under consideration.

"Oh my...We can't do this. Without SPLOST, how do you intend to pay for this," Langstaff asked City Manager James Taylor.

"How do I intend to pay for this?" Taylor responded. "I don't."

If the SPLOST money is stripped from the project it leaves only between $3.5 million and $5 million in stimulus funding available to use on the project, depending on the outcome of the city's request for an extension to spend the money. Those funds come with a 20 percent local match that would have to come from the city's general fund.

According to the presentation Tuesday, Site A, the Budget Inn and former Chinese food restaurant at 301 East Oglethorpe Boulevard would cost nearly $9 million to acquire, demolish and build a transit station; Site B, the site of the current Destiny Transportation Bus Station at 300 West Oglethorpe Boulevard would top $11.2 million; Site C, the former Heritage House hotel site at 732 West Oglethorpe Boulevard, would cost $8.8 million and Site D, the former movie theater site on Gillionville Road would cost 8.9 million.

Sites A and D may be higher because they don't include purchase prices only assessed values. Site B topped the four largely because of the $1.8 million price tag the Destiny Group has offered as a purchase price and environmental costs that would be associated with developing the site. Site C's price tag includes the $1.1 million price the city has already paid to purchase and demolish the site.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

James Taylor to Jr. : "How do I intend to pay for this?" Taylor responded. "I don't." Terse but strong reasoning. The more I read about Taylor the more I like him. Too bad he doesn't have much to work with by way of the commissioners.

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iko 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree. Everytime I think about Bob Langstaff, I want to puke. If it's anti-business, he wants it. If it's more spending and waste, he loves it. The guy is probably shocked that Taylor said no.

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albanyman 1 year, 7 months ago

So what is a "multimodal" site anyway? It suggests multi types of transportation when in reality its a city bus station. Not a thing wrong with the current site. There, I just saved the city and taxpayers millions of dollars.

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J.D._Sumner 1 year, 7 months ago

Your'e right Albanyman, multimodal does refer to multiple modes of transportation. In this instance those modes include intercity bus transit, interstate bus travel, regional bus travel through a state funded program and taxi's, bicycles and the like. The original site plan was near a rail spur on the off chance that in 50 years Albany might be included in a budding rail network across the state.

And the current site is privately owned, receiving $80k each year in subsidies from the federal government, subsidies that city folks think will end if they don't build their own transit center or purchase that one. (There was an agreement when the old transfer station was closed that the feds would temporarily pay rent on for the other bus station.

The current owners want the city to pay $1.8 million for that site, making it one of the more expensive options on the list.

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iko 1 year, 7 months ago

Always vote no on SPLOST.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 7 months ago

At the risk of repeating myself......Aaaaaa what the heck

Abytaxpayer 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The defeat of T-SPLOST should be a CLEAR message to our local Politicians.."We do NOT Trust you with any more of our TAX Dollars". Try placing the BLAME where it belongs on the Politicians who spend the “FREE Money” is why we are small, crippled, and broke.

This fiasco with the bus station Splost money is a good example of why NOT to Trust them…..They sold the public Splost saying it would build a new bus station and now they admit it can only be used for a maintenance building ……which we do not even need. Bait and switch…..now they have 4 million dollars of “free money” to find a new home for. Let the waste begin.

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iko 1 year, 7 months ago

Always vote no on SPLOST. Vote out Langstaff and Marietta. Shut down job killer Judy "Toilet" Bowles.

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iko 1 year, 7 months ago

....and by the way....perhaps Langstaff (if he strains his feeble intellect very hard) might see a connection between his anti-job/anti-business outlook and the lack of tax revenue to pay for these projects.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 7 months ago

Careful iko...Judy will have them out demanding you take your American flag down and writing you tickets and fines because they just know you are an evil person using your flag as advertisement for more than just saying you’re a proud American.

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dingleberry 1 year, 7 months ago

It won't be "free money" since there are limitations on what can be done with money when a project cannot be accomplished. We have another case of "cannot do" with the county money allocated to move the Art Museum downtown. In that case, the AM doesn't want to move which raises the question of how this wound up as a project in the first place.

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dingleberry 1 year, 7 months ago

I don't see a basis for including all the acquisition and clean up costs at the Heritage House site in the cost comparison. If it had been bought and cleared for this purpose it would be appropriate. It could never be sold for anything close to that amount so why saddle the site with the smack down costs? The other three sites do include acquisition and demolition which would be additive.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 7 months ago

Smoke and mirrors......smoke and mirrors, They don't want you to know the real cost of a project in Albany. Kind of like the $100 toilet seats, they tell you the money is for one thing and divert it to pet money pits.....Hmmm like River fish bowl and the foot prints in the sidewalk to “No one really cares” Rights monument building.

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