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County discusses SPLOST ideas
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Roads, culverts and sidewalks dominate Dawson County staff suggestions for spending SPLOST money, if approved by voters.

Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects will be on the ballot in November.

After speaking with each of you individually, staff and I got together and brainstormed and got some ideas, County Manager Cindy Campbell said.

Campbell said the county is projected to net $41.2 million for a six-year SPLOST, or $33.1 million for a five-year SPLOST, if approved by voters. The difference in years is based on whether the county is able to enter into an agreement with the City of Dawsonville. The projections are based on average collections per month as of February 2014 and an added 7 percent for each year for growth.

If SPLOST is approved over a six-year period, Campbell recommended $26 million allocated to public works, with $21.2 million going toward roads, culverts and sidewalks. Campbell did not specify particular road projects. Other public works projects include $2.2 million for equipment, $2.5 million for a public works facility and $100,000 for a recycling facility in the southeast part of the county.

Campbell also recommended $6 million for parks and recreation under the six-year projection.

A total of $4.4 million is recommended for a community center. This is something that the conversation has centered around, Campbell said. Some type of facility that would seat 100 to 300 people. Right now, the only facility we have for that is our gymnasiums, and as you all know that is pretty expensive hardwood floors, and so we dont want a lot of tables sliding around there. Also, those gyms are in use much of the year.

Other parks and recreation projects include another canoe put-in area, field lighting and repair, and recreation property for multi-use fields.

If SPLOST is approved for a six-year term, Campbell recommended $7.1 million be allocated to public safety. From that, $3.8 million would be for sheriff vehicles and equipment. Emergency services would get $750,000 for ambulances and an additional $750,000 for a fire truck and equipment. Campbell recommended $1 million be used to pay off a county fire truck debt.

In a six-year projection, Campbell proposes spending $2 million on information technology, which includes $350,000 for equipment and $1.6 million for an electronic file storage facility.

The state has been saying for years we need off-site storage, Chair Mike Berg told the board. If anything happens to this building, everything would be gone.

District-1 Commissioner Gary Pichon noted that 7 percent growth projections seemed a little high.

We realize those projections are a little high, Campbell said.If we dont agree with the city and have an IGA in place we can only collect the maximum set. This way we can continue to collect.

Pichon noted that the recommended projects were a lot of the countys basic needs and not a lot of exciting projects sometimes seen in SPLOST packages. This is a basic eat-your-vegetables, Pichon said. Theres hardly any dessert. Theres none of the fun stuff just basic stuff.

The county and the city will meet today at 4 p.m. at Dawsonville City Hall to discuss a SPLOST IGA with the city.