SPLOST V committee makes unexpected recommendation for convention center

Photo of SPLOST V committee at Henry County Administration Building
The SPLOST V committee met this week to recommend countywide projects. (Henry Herald photo/ Joe Adgie)

The SPLOST V committee met this week to select its recommendations for countywide projects. Note that all projects are recommendations only until the committee’s work is presented to the board of commissioners in May 2019. The BOC makes the final decision on SPLOST projects.

SPLOST V is anticipated to collect $220 million if approved by voters, collecting the tax from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2025. Henry County receives 75% of the proceeds, or $165 million, for use on capital projects. The remaining 25% is divided among the cities based on population.

The SPLOST V committee voted 4-1, with two members absent, to adopt staff’s recommendations for countywide projects. Moving Henry Forward editor and committee chair Clayton Carte voted against the motion stating that the proposed convention center took funds away from transportation.

The most unexpected recommendation was $20 million for a convention center. There had been very little discussion about the project at previous committee meetings and limited research has been completed by Henry County about the feasibility, possible locations, or realistic cost estimates for the venue. The committee added a condition that the venue should only be included within the final project list if its feasibility can be confirmed prior to the voter referendum next year.

Moving Henry Forward has previously projected that additional funds for the Bethlehem Road interchange would be included within SPLOST V. Staff did not recommend the project anticipating lengthy timeframes for preliminary engineering, review of environmental impacts, and right of way acquisition. Funding within SPLOST IV can provide the local match for those phases. Construction is not expected until 2025 which would be budgeted within a hypothetical SPLOST VI.

The projected cost of all countywide projects totals $70,945,000. The projects recommended by staff, then approved for recommendation by the committee include the following:

County Facilities

  • Animal Control renovations – $1,000,000
  • New Elections Building – $2,500,000
  • Jail Pod addition – $10,000,000
  • Probate Court parking expansion – $750,000
  • Fleet Replacement program – $22,695,000

Subtotal: $36,945,000

Public Safety

  • Ola Police Precinct & New Fire Station (exact location TBD; in the vicinity of SR 81 & Mt. Bethel Road) – $6,000,000
  • Fairview Police Precinct & Fire Station 6 rebuild (Fairview Road at W Panola Road) – $4,500,000

Subtotal: $10,500,000

Parks & Recreation

  • Convention Center – $20,000,000

Subtotal: $20,000,000

Program Management

  • Program Management – $3,500,000

Subtotal: $3,500,000

Total: $70,945,000

The recommended project list leaves $94,055,000 for district projects. Each commission district will receive $18,811,000.

District projects will be decided at committee meetings in early 2019. All meetings are held on Thursdays at 6:30 pm.

  • District 1 – January 10 (New Hope Elementary)
  • District 2 – January 24 (Luella Middle School)
  • District 3 – February 7 (Heritage Senior Center)
  • District 4 – February 28 (Timber Ridge Elementary)
  • District 5 – March 7 (Cotton Indian Elementary)

The final committee meeting will be held on March 21 at the Henry County Administration Building. Members of the public are encouraged to attend any of the meetings.

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