Early voting starts Monday for Harris County residents, who are being asked to continue a sales tax that officials say has funded needed public improvements without raising property taxes.
The 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax approved in 2008 will expire in January if a new SPLOST isn't passed. State law allows a SPLOST to last for five years.
The current SPLOST was designed to raise $21 million, but county clerk and assistant manager Nancy McMichael said the Great Recession slowed collections, so only $12 million is expected to be collected. That means about $9 million in road improvements have been delayed, she said. Nonetheless, the SPLOST was the primary source of funds for the following projects:
Hamilton Fire Station
Northwest Harris Business Park, which officials say created more than 1,500 jobs.
Emergency radio system
Patrol cars, ambulances and fire trucks
The proposed SPLOST comprises projects totalling approximately $19 million, but it is split into two tiers that prioritize the projects. The first tier totals about $14.2 million and will be funded first:
$1 million for economic development: acquisition of industrial sites; developing, installing and maintaining sewer, water, natural gas and roads; and construction of industrial building.
$1 million to expand the public water system.
$500,000 to be combined with $1.5 million from the current SPLOST for expanding the public library or building a new facility.
$500,000 to develop a site for the construction, expansion and improvement of the Agri-Center.
$80,000 for a computer-aided dispatch system for the sheriff's office and a 911 emergency radio system.
Hamilton: $240,000 total ($20,000 for repairs and improvements to city hall; $125,000 for city equipment; and $95,000 for public safety equipment and improvements).
Pine Mountain: $961,000 total ($631,000 to retire debt on public safety center; $130,000 for acquisition and construction of maintenance building; $200,000 for improvements to water system).
Shiloh: $270,000 total ($40,000 for public works improvements; $80,000 for water system improvements; and $150,000 for public safety improvements).
Waverly Hall: $376,000 total ($150,000 for renovation of old fire station building as a community building; $100,000 for water system improvements; $76,000 for purchase of public safety equipment to include vehicles, body armor, lockers and uniforms; $50,000 for equipment and improvements to technology and fixtures).
West Point: $475,000 for improvement of water and sewer infrastructures and facilities.
Roads and bridges
Harris County: $2,500,000
Waverly Hall: $200,000
West Point: $100,000
Harris County: $2,701,000 for approximately 10 trucks and two brush trucks.
Waverly Hall: $101,000 for a generator, turn-out gear, hydro testing, thermal imagery, storage building, restroom renovation, tables and chairs.
West Point: $350,000 for firefighting equipment and improvement.
Harris County: $1,000,000 for acquisition, construction and renovation of recreation facilities and equipment.
Waverly Hall: $1,500,000 for acquisition and construction of baseball facility and tennis facility at Perkins Park ($850,000), gym renovation and walking trail ($200,000) and football facility ($450,000).
West Point: $200,000 for recreation improvement.
The second tier of projects would be funded only if the SPLOST revenue exceeds the $14.2 million dedicated to the first tier:
$4,786,000 for Harris County debt reduction; public safety, including addition to the jail; roads and bridges; and automated weather observing system for airport.
WHERE TO VOTE
To cast a ballot on the Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax referendum in Harris County, early voting starts today and runs through Nov. 1, Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the Harris County Courthouse, 104 N. College St., 706-628-5210. Voting on Election Day, Nov. 5, will be in your designated precinct. To check your poll location, see http://mvp.sos.state.ga.us.