City chooses new SPLOST projects

Published 11:07 am Wednesday, April 17, 2019

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — The Americus Mayor and City Council, in its monthly work session, hammered out a list of SPLOST projects for a proposed 2021 SPLOST which will be voted on in November 2020. The council first voted to approve the amount offered by Sumter County in previous discussions. The city of Americus will receive 41.96 percent of the SPLOST revenues, unchanged from the current SPLOST.
During the discussions, Mayor Barry Blount explained that the projected revenues for the SPLOST is $21.5 million (for the county and all municipalities combined), which is projected on the six-year tax of the additional 1 cent. That means the city of Americus is projected to receive $9.2 million in revenues from the new SPLOST. “This is less than what we initially thought we would get,” Blount said, because Sumter County wants to give the smaller cities — DeSoto, Leslie, Andersonville, and Plains — a larger share than for the current SPLOST. Blount commented that he had been “portrayed in the media” as being against the smaller municipalities getting additional revenues. “The city has never been against smaller cities getting more, but I have wanted Americus to get more.”
During the discussion of the percentage that Americus will receive, the mayor asked city attorney Jimmy Skipper to comment. Skipper said that if the city doesn’t approve the figure, they won’t receive anything, plus it will be reduced to a five-year SPLOST, “which will affect everyone.” Skipper said he had not heard of that ever happening before. He was to do more research.
Council member Lou Chase commented that part of the argument for more funds for Leslie, Plains, and Andersonville because they are tourist destinations. “But our (the city of Americus’) tourism director promotes that.”
“There’s another part to that,” Blount said. “Eighteen hundred people from out of town attended the Hot Glass/Beer Festival. The city provided events that bring people to town and the bulk of the revenue is in Americus, and based on population. This is where we are.”
Council member Nelson Brown said, “It’s hard to understand. Citizens in Americus pay taxes for the county and city … ”
Brown moved to approve the percentage which was seconded by Council member Charles Christmas, and passed unanimously. Council member Juanita Wilson was absent.
On the projects discussions, Council member Chase asked Americus Police Chief Mark Scott about the new communications system, and whether or not it will be compatible with the county’s. “They [the county] wants to update theirs, too,” the chief said. “The question is which frequency to use and we can decide that three years down the road. … We will just have to make sure we have the same thing when we put it out for bids.”
“This brings up the bond again,” Blount said. “The county had someone to talk with them about a bond.” City manager, Charles Coney, said the county is considering a bond referendum. The city council rejected the idea of a new bond issue two months ago in a 4-2 vote.
Skipper said the categories for the projects should be broad “because if you say you’re going to do something [with the SPLOST revenues], you have to do it. You have to be careful not to get into a situation where you have to spend money out of the General Fund to complete the projects voted in. It’s like shooting an arrow six years into the future.”
Council member Daryl Dowdell moved to accept the list, and was seconded by Council member Kelvin Pless, and passed unanimously.
The list consists of three public safety projects: new communications system for police and fire departments — $1.5 million; new fire truck — $750,000; and new law enforcement vehicles — $1.5 million. The list also includes a major infrastructure project: street resurfacing — $4 million; and a building & maintenance project of $1,271,400 which is to include major purchases of equipment for the Rylander Theatre.
On the consent agenda for Thursday’s monthly meeting will be approving the purchase of a new communication repeater for Americus Fire & Emergency Services for $6,925. City manager Coney said this had to be treated as an emergency and had already been purchased, although they are awaiting delivery. He added that an alternate method is currently in place.
On the agenda for Thursday are the following items.
• Consider for a second and final reading of the request to annex property at 1219 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., where Dialysis Clinics of Americus will construct a $2.4 million clinic.
• Consider approving an alcohol license application for the sale of beer, wine, and liquor on premises at Lounge 323, located at 323 W. Forsyth St., with Broderick Coley as applicant.
• Several appointments to various city committees, commissions, and authorities will also be considered.
In addition, Roger Jackson, invited by Nelson Brown, will be presented a proclamation in recognition of his service as the April Honorary City Council member. The mayor will administer the oath of office to Patricia Harris who has been appointed to serve on the Theater Authority. He will also present Barbara Grogan with a proclamation in recognition of her service to Americus and Sumter County as she leaves for Moultrie and Colquitt County.
The mayor will also present proclamations in recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, National Volunteer Appreciation Month, and Georgia Cities Week.