According to a document provided by County Manager William Wilson Jr., the first step in the process is for the Board of Commissioners to deliver written notice to the municipalities - Griffin, Orchard Hill and Sunny Side - of a planned meeting to discuss the sales tax.
“We have to come together and they have to present us with a list of projects for consideration for inclusion in the SPLOST,” Wilson said.
The meeting with the municipalities is scheduled for May 28. Wilson said that once this meeting is held, the cities will come forward with their SPLOST requests. He believes the city of Griffin will primarily be interested in funds for transportation and infrastructure improvements.
Some organizations have already made funding requests. The Spalding County Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority and Griffin Technical College have all asked for funds.
According to a letter dated Feb. 8, the Spalding County Parks and Recreation Department’s requests total $20 million. One request is for $2.5 million to complete the new senior center - although some monies from the current SPLOST remain and the county anticipates receiving a Community Development Block Grant and selling the current Parks and Recreation offices, there will still be a $2.5 million shortfall.
The Parks and Recreation Department also wants to build a health and wellness center that will include gymnasiums, a handball court, a competitive and therapeutic pool and an indoor walking track. Other requests are lights for the Wyomia Tyus soccer complex and small sums for every neighborhood park.
The Griffin-Spalding Development Authority has requested $25 million in order to purchase and develop the Big Shanty property near Memorial Drive. Purchasing the land alone will cost $8 million, while other costs, including site grading and sewer, will total $17 million.
According to a letter to Spalding County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Goss, Griffin Technical College has requested that a new Learning Enhancement Center be placed on the SPLOST. The proposed building would be 35,000 to 40,000 square feet and would cost $8.5 million. The building would house adult literacy classes, General Equivalency Diploma classes and academic classes, as well as an economic development center.
The next step after the meeting with the municipalities is for the Board of Commissioners to adopt a resolution calling for the election. At this point, all projects, the amount of tax monies to be collected and the financial arrangements must be decided. That meeting is scheduled for June 30.
After the resolution is passed, the federal government will become involved in the process. Because of the Voting Rights Act, the county must receive preclearance from the Justice Department; the request must be filed at least 60 days prior to the election date.
“All of the Southern states require preclearance under the Voting Rights Act,” Wilson said.
The next step is to publicize the event in the local newspaper. According to the documents, the first election notice will be published the week of Aug. 11, while the second notice will run the week of Aug. 18, the third the week of Aug. 25, the fourth the week of Sept. 1 and the fifth the week of Sept. 8.
“It must be publicized once a week for four weeks before the election,” Wilson said. “We’re putting in a fifth week of publication.”
He said there is “an extra week in there,” so the county decided to run ads for five weeks instead of four.
Goss said he thinks road paving should be an important part of the SPLOST.
“I think road paving, paving dirt roads, to me is my number one priority,” he said. “Second, I would like to hopefully finish up the senior center. I hope we can work things to where we can do something for Griffin Tech.”
He said according to the latest information he has received, Griffin Tech is planning on expanding its job-training programs, something he supports.
He also said he cannot see how the county can provide the Development Authority with the full $25 million for the Big Shanty project. Although he believes it would be possible to give the authority some funding, he emphasized the importance of paving dirt roads.