McDONOUGH – The SPLOST V referendum has been written in stone for the November election.

The Henry County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a modified version of something approved at the end of July, which puts, in concrete language, what voters will decide on in November concerning SPLOST V.

SPLOST V will be a $204 million program over five years. The first $40.8 million will go to funding county projects, while the remainder will be divided under a 70-30 revenue split according to population. Seventy percent of the revenues will go to Henry County projects, while the remaining 30 percent will be divided between the four cities.

Patrick Jaugstetter, the county’s attorney, said the county had to go back and draw up a new resolution as decisions had been made “on the fly” when the initial approval was made at the end of last month.

The resolution also gives the county the ability to issue up to $30 million in bonds if the county determines it is necessary.

The language that will be included in the ballot states the sales tax will be used “for the purpose of financing… capital outlay projects to be owned or operated or both by Henry County, Georgia, the city of Hampton, the city of Locust Grove, the city of McDonough, the city of Stockbridge or any combination thereof” and includes “roads, bridges, sidewalks and transportation facilities, public safety facilities and equipment, public works facilities and equipment, public building development, construction and renovation, parks, recreation and community facilities, land acquired for public use and repayment of any debt or any other obligations associated with any of said projects.”

No specific projects are included in the ballot language, including the proposed aquatic center that has become the county’s centerpiece of SPLOST V.

The omission of the aquatic center from the ballot language did not sit well with Commissioner Vivian Thomas, who questioned Jaugstetter about it.

Jaugstetter said the ballot language would become “unwieldy” if projects such as an aquatic center were included.

In response to that concern, Cheri Hobson-Matthews, Henry County manager, said the county is working to educate voters as to what will be on the SPLOST V ballot, and part of that effort included talking to the Henry County Chamber of Commerce.

“We do understand we want to make sure voters are aware of what’s on the project list, specifically what the projects are,” Matthews said.

Before the cities receive any SPLOST revenue, the “Level 2 projects” will receive funding first. Those projects are headlined by the $22 million Henry County Aquatic Center, which will be centrally located near Interstate 75.

A recreation facility, likely in District 2, will have a $2 million price tag. The first part of the county’s fleet replacement plan, which replaces older county vehicles and equipment, budgeted at $1.8 million, is also included in that project list, as is a police precinct and a rebuild of Fire Station No. 6 in the Fairview area, priced at $6 million, and three fire stations, in Districts 2, 3 and 4 at a cost of $3 million each.

After those projects receive funding, the county and the cities will then divide the remaining SPLOST revenue. A total of $77,13,937 will go to roads, bridges, sidewalks and transportation facilities in the county, $19,600,063 will go to parks and recreation facilities, $1.1 million will fund public building development, construction and renovation, and the remainder of the fleet replacement program will be funded at $12,728,694.

Three police precincts, in districts 2, 3 and 4 will also be funded at a cost of $1.5 million each.

The largest city in Henry County, Stockbridge, will have $20,525,905 to work with by the time the SPLOST collections are done. A total of $9,836,695 will go to civic projects and buildings, while $4,590,458 will go to two separate line items — road projects and sewer, water and stormwater infrastructure; $1,508,294 will go to park improvements.

McDonough, the county seat of Henry County, will have an estimated $17,681,935 available once SPLOST V collections are done. This includes $11,080,997 for roads, bridges, sidewalks and transportation facilities, $4,051,117 for public safety facilities and equipment, $148,938 for public works facilities and equipment, $524,263 for parks and recreation facilities and $1,876,620 for community development facilities.

Hampton will have $5,594,262 in SPLOST funding, with the biggest portion going to roads, sidewalks and right of way improvements, worth $2,086,489.

Water and sewer enhancements and capital improvements, including municipal buildings, both have a $1,043,244 price tag to them. Green space and trail development are budgeted at $524,094, park improvement and development are budgeted at $521,623 and public safety is budgeted at $375,568.

Locust Grove will have $4,325,204 in SPLOST V funding to work with, with the biggest portion going to roads, bridges, sidewalks and transportation facilities, a $3,925,955 budget item.

According to documentation, that budget will go to improving the intersection at Bill Gardner Parkway at Ga. Highway 42, improvements to Ga. Highway 42, Peeksville pedestrian improvements, bicycle shareways, intersections and resurfacing.

A total of $332,708 has been budgeted for construction and renovations of municipal buildings, namely Phase II of the city’s municipal complex, with additional parking and a veterans’ memorial.

The other budget item for Locust Grove is $66,541 for parks and recreation facilities, namely a greenway plan for future development of linkages throughout the city.

Henry County’s voters will decide the fate of SPLOST in November. The ballot question is an “all-or-nothing” proposition, which means voters will decide to support either the entire SPLOST program, or none of it.

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Government Reporter

A native of Hampton, Georgia, Joe Adgie has worked for the Valdosta Daily Times, Clayton News, Rockdale Citizen and Newton Citizen. Adgie joined the Henry Herald in April 2018.

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