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County wants to reappropriate SPLOST funds

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County Commission's Finance Committee sent a measure to the full commission Monday that would allow the county to reappropriate special tax funds for installation of a new roof on the county's Northwest Library branch, despite concerns by one committee member that citizens will question the expenditure in light of two recent branch closings.

District 2 Commissioner John Hayes, who also serves on the county's Library Board, told the Finance Committee at its early morning meeting and later told the full commission that the move, no matter how well-intentioned, would "perpetuate public scrutiny" of the branch closures.

"Once (the media reports on the action), the community is going to wonder how we were able to find $400,000 to repair the roof on one library branch so soon after shutting down two others," Hayes said during the Finance meeting. "I bring this up because we're going to have to be prepared to deal with the fallout."

County Administrator Richard Crowdis explained that the Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax V money, which was originally designated for utilities relocation along State Highway 133, became available because of a change in policy by the state Department of Transportation.

"SPLOST V passed in November of 2004, and in October of 2005, the state Transportation department changed its policy, no longer requiring up-front money from the counties on third-party projects," Crowdis said. "The money that had been approved for the work on 133 became a moot point.

"Our request for a $2 million library improvement grant had moved up the state list to No. 5, but in our meeting with our legislative delegation before this session, it became obvious that we were not going to get $2 million. Since this is a 50 percent matching grant and the estimate for the new roof on the Northwest Library is for $780,000, the $400,000 would meet our match and give us a much better chance of securing a (state) grant. If we don't get it, we'll be funding the entire $780,000."

Hayes countered by saying, "(If the funding is approved), the onus is going to be on us to explain what our plans are to get at least one branch open."

Finance Committee Chairman Lamar Hudgins said transfer of the SPLOST funding to another project that was approved in the same special tax cycle was proper use of the funding under state law.

"(The Northwest branch's need for a new roof) is not a surprise," Hudgins said. "We knew when we bought that building that it was something we'd need to do."

The full commission will vote on the proposal at its business meeting next week.

The Finance Committee also discussed financing and economic development plans with Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem at the early meeting. Clem said the EDC is "pursuing 42 active leads" in its quest to bring more industry to the region.

Comments

jamesgriffin 1 year, 10 months ago

It is a dangerous path we are going down when we allow a sales tax designated for road improvements - at the will of the electorate - to be re-purposed at the whim of the Commissioners. The voters agreed to pay 1% more sales tax for a DEFINED special purpose on the ballot. If that money is "no longer needed" for that, stop charging us the extra penny in sales tax. Go put a NEW referendum on the ballot for a SPLOST to fund building repairs - and let us VOTE on it.

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DoctorDorite 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree 100%, the fall-out from a move like this will last for decades. I say this is a bad move and the commissioners/administrator will pay dearly later when the public trust is gone and a new SPLOST is needed. If the money is'nt to be used as voted on then give everyone a rebate in the form of a 1 time property tax/advalorum tax relief.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

Fix the roof. It's taking care of our assets. Maintenance is just a fact of life on a building.

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Nous_Defions 1 year, 10 months ago

$780,000.00 That sounds a bit steep to me.

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alleebrin 1 year, 10 months ago

Ahh! And $650.000.00 "sounds a bit steep" for two eye-sore arches, one of which was never erected! Politics as usual, huh?

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Nous_Defions 1 year, 10 months ago

Nothing surprises me about the Oligarchy that runs this city.

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RedEric 1 year, 10 months ago

That building cannot be over 30,000 square feet (does anyone know?). If so, then the cost of re roofing is over $20 per square foot. If I could have gotten contracts like that I would own my own island. I think we need to see published details of the bid. This, the arches and $10 million for the coal plant cleanup are absolutely ridiculous. If there is not fraud there is ignorance.

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B4it 1 year, 10 months ago

Hayes countered by saying, "(If the funding is approved), the onus is going to be on us to explain what our plans are to get at least one branch open."

Is this a threat from Commissioner Hayes? It seems Hayes is trying to push his own personal agenda on the rest of the commissioners. Why would one of the closed branches need to be reopened just because maintenance is needed on another branch?

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whattheheck 1 year, 10 months ago

His way of holding funds hostage,

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

I didn't know that SPLOST funds could be reappropriated like that. I thought what we voted for on the ballot was it.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

Of course, I NEVER vote for SPLOST.

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whattheheck 1 year, 10 months ago

The wording and structure of projects on the ballot determines what the funds can be used for. I suggest getting a "real lawyer" to look at the matter, pro bono of course if there is such a thing. While at it, the funds to move the Art Museum on SPLOST V, a project that cannot be done, need to be looked at too before the money grabbers and blood suckers latch onto them also.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 10 months ago

The splosh money was voted for remodeling the downtown library. Only this. They have not even started the downtown library before all of the money will be gone. We were told in genealogy that they would start the day after Thanksgiving holidays remodeling. They do not even have a builder and it was suppose to take less than a year. They just want to use and use that money, so you voters will have egg on your face. It may never be used downtown.

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Jacob 1 year, 10 months ago

A perfect example of why SPLOST should have never passed in the first place. Once politicians get their lips on a fresh milk teat, they can't let go. Government has to learn to live within it's means, just like families do. To vote for a new tax is absurd and this shenanigans proves it once and for all.

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Cartman 1 year, 10 months ago

It is simply misappropriation. SPLOST funds are voted upon for a Special Purpose. Any other use of the funds is a reappropriation, not intended by those who authorized it.

Why does it never occur to bureaucrats to return any unspent money back to taxpayers?

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whattheheck 1 year, 10 months ago

We need a lawyer to see if this is a legal move.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree with the general issues bloggers are raising. In theory SPLOST taxes are a good idea in practice they just run awry. A couple of years ago, a SPLOST past to help the Albany Art Museum move down town. Its board reversed itself and decided to remain in their current location. What happened with that big batch of money? A lot of special interest climb on board when money is presented as low hanging and easy picking fruit. It all comes from the taxpayers. Today most elected officials spend money foolishly. Ivy Hines' comment that it didn't matter if the city didn't have the money for a consultant on one of the dumb propositions he offered, we'll do it any way is a typical example of this community's leadership. We need to fix the library roof when all is said and done. We have to protect our assets whatever the best way. Don't throw the money to a mendicant group or the mud hole down town do something legal and practical with the cabbage. This is a good thread with reasonable comments. I hope my two cents fit in.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 10 months ago

FryarTuk, why don't you run for commissioner. Albany needs a know how person.

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URWrongAgain 1 year, 10 months ago

Probably a good use of the funds, but a bad idea to reapportion. Very Bad precedent. As someone indicated, they are called Special Purpose for a reason. Some people may not agree that a new roof on the library is appropriate, but would never have any say in the matter if Commissioners move in this direction.

Out.

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howsad 1 year, 10 months ago

How sad...there he goes again. Comm Hayes sit on the Finance Cmte and full well knows that SPLOST $$$ can't be used to fund operational efforts like running a library. He is simply again politically grandstanding for his low information voter base and governing by deception and devious methods. How sad we have such in positions of trust.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

Is the repair/maintenance the same thing as operations? It gets into the short strokes and I would like to know what the law actually is.

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