Without intergovernmental agreement, city SPLOST V projects would be limited

Proposed Stockbridge cultural arts center
A new cultural arts center in Stockbridge is the most expensive city project proposed in SPLOST V. (city photo)

This summer, Henry County and the four cities were unable to enter into an intergovernmental agreement regarding the proposed SPLOST V program. By not having an agreement, the program is limited by state law to a maximum of five years in collections. The commissioners also selected “Level II Projects,” further reducing the share of collections distributed to municipalities.

The selection of level II projects and one year less of collections affects the cities more than the county in projected revenue. While the proposed SPLOST V program is estimated to collect an additional 28.9% in revenues per year, municipal revenues would only increase 1.3% over SPLOST IV.

Furthermore, because the first twenty percent of collections must be set aside for the county’s Level II Projects, it is estimated that the cities will not receive their first share in collections until fall 2021. This would delay the start and eventual completion on all municipal projects.

Crunching the Numbers

The table below compares municipal collections between the following scenarios:

  • SPLOST IV – the amount of municipal collections that cities have received in the existing sales tax program that started in April 2014 and expires in March 2020. Seventy-five percent of collections has been distributed to Henry County and twenty-five percent has been distributed to the cities, further divided by population.
  • What’s Proposed – the amount of municipal collections that cities will receive if SPLOST V is approved in November. State law requires the proceeds to be divided by population AFTER twenty percent of collections is set aside for the county’s Level II Projects.
  • The Status Quo – the amount of municipal collections that cities would have received had an intergovernmental agreement been approved under the same collections share as SPLOST IV. This model is the assumption county staff and the SPLOST V committee worked under in making their recommendations.
  • What Cities Requested – the amount of municipal collections that cities would have received had Henry County agreed with the cities’ request to adjust the intergovernmental agreement. The cities requested to split the collections seventy percent to Henry County and thirty percent to the cities, further divided by population, to better align the IGA with the population share of incorporated and unincorporated residents.
SPLOST IVWhat’s ProposedThe Status QuoWhat Cities Requested
75% County / 25% City 70.51% / 29.49%
AFTER Level II Projects
75% / 25% 70% / 30%
Hampton$5.53 M$5.59 M$7.12 M$8.54 M
Locust Grove$4.27 M$4.32 M$5.50 M$6.60 M
McDonough$17.45 M$17.68 M$22.50 M$27.00 M
Stockbridge$20.25 M$20.53 M$26.12 M$31.35 M
Total$47.5 M$48.13 M$61.25 M$73.5 M

Values are expressed in millions of dollars

Municipal Projects

The city of McDonough has the most detailed project lists, approving a list both before and after the intergovernmental agreement fell through. Thanks to these documents and discussions held by the city council, a side-by-side analysis of McDonough projects has been provided below:

CategoryProjectPreliminary ListFinal List
Community
Development
Facilities
Cultural, Recreational,
or Historical Facilities
$800,000$600,000
Community Center$1,500,000$1,500,000
Acquisition and Improvements
of Public Properties
$350,000$350,000
Sub-total:$2,650,000$2,450,000
Recreation
Facilities
Big Spring
Parking Lot
$200,000$150,000
Replace Playground
Equipment
$150,000$150,000
Replace 4
Tennis Courts
$260,000$260,000
Redo 6
Tennis Courts
$120,000$120,000
Pickleball Courts$150,000$150,000
Sub-total:$880,000$830,000
Public SafetyFire Station #53
McDonough Parkway
$3,600,000$2,600,000
Fire Station #54
SR 81 / Racetrack Road
Included AboveRemoved
Fire Trucks$900,000$800,000
IT Infrastructure$800,000$700,000
Police Cars$1,000,000$750,000
Sub-total:$6,300,000$4,850,000
TransportationSidewalks$1,500,000$1,100,000
Road Improvements
and Maintenance
$9,700,000$4,000,000
Racetrack Road at
Iris Lake (city share)
$800,000$800,000
McDonough Parkway
SR 42 to SR 155 (city share)
$1,000,000Removed
McDonough Parkway at
Bridges Road
$1,200,000$1,200,000
Highway 20 at Bridges Rd /
Simpson St realignment
$1,500,000$1,500,000
Travis Road
improvements
$700,000$300,000
City Entrance Signs$300,000$300,000
Sidewalk Art Circles$600,000$600,000
Other Intersections$300,000$300,000
Sub-total:$17,600,000$10,100,000
Public WorksAdditional Storage Bays$250,000$250,000
Sub-total:$250,000$250,000
Total:$27,680,000$18,480,000

In summary, the largest reduction within McDonough projects can be found within transportation improvements. The city’s share to build the northern segment of the McDonough Parkway was removed after the commissioners cut its budgeted county funding by eighty percent, and general road maintenance funding for the city was cut over fifty percent from $9.7 million to $4 million.

In Stockbridge, the county’s most populated city, SPLOST V funding is proposed to be distributed in the following categories:

CategoryPossible ProjectsPercentageFunding Amount
Civic ProjectsCulture Arts Center, Senior / Youth Center, City Hall Annex48%$9.85 M
Road ProjectsSidewalks, Roads, Trails23%$4.72 M
Sewer / Water / Stormwater Infrastructure23%$4.72 M
Park Improvements6%$1.23 M
Total100%$20.53 M

Values are expressed in millions of dollars

Stockbridge recently awarded a $15.8 million dollar contract to build the city’s new amphitheater behind city hall. The new venue, funded through SPLOST IV and general fund, will include a total capacity of 4,185 with a seated audience capacity around 3,500.

In August, the city council reviewed architectural concepts for the proposed cultural arts center, to be constructed off Burke Street and North Henry Blvd. The proposed design includes a 250-seat capacity and has been estimated to cost $12 million to build. General fund balance would be utilized in addition to SPLOST dollars to cover the project cost.

In Locust Grove, proposed projects include a new roundabout at state route 42 and Bill Gardner Parkway and improvements to the city’s municipal complex. The improvements could include additional parking and a veteran’s memorial.

The new roundabout has been proposed in collaboration with Georgia DOT as part of larger efforts to address traffic congestion in the downtown area. GDOT is funding a widening project along Georgia 42 and the city is installing a center median along Bill Gardner Parkway.

In Hampton, projects have not been specified. New police cars, sidewalk projects, and water / sewer upgrades are frequent inclusions within the city’s SPLOST program.

Early voting is going on now to consider the approval of SPLOST V and elect city council members. Be sure and visit our Elections webpage for more information.

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