Fayetteville's city council unanimously approved its SPLOST project list for the potential two-year SPLOST that will be put to voters in November.
The SPLOST, if passed, is expected to bring in a total of $41,245,988 over two years. Of that money, Fayetteville is expected to receive $6,753,499 (or 16.37-percent, per the already agreed upon Local Option Sales Tax distribution formula).
The SPLOST was originally floated as an idea when residents in the unincorporated parts of the county objected to a newly instituted stormwater fee. Residents of Fayetteville and Peachtree City already pay annual bills for stormwater maintenance.
Chairman Steve Brown in particular has been vocal about the pressing needs for maintenance and replacement to much of the county's aging stormwater infrastructure, in particular corrugated steel pipes which are reaching or have surpassed their prescribed life span.
The SPLOST, if passed, will be used exclusively for stormwater projects that the county has pegged as important. For the municipalities, the money would be available for a wider assortment of projects. A list of desired eligible SPLOST projects had to be submitted in order to receive the funding should the SPLOST pass, making it logical for each municipality to submit a list regardless of its support for the idea.
Fayetteville councilman Walt White made it very clear that while he was voting to approve the list, he does not support the SPLOST.
"I'd like to say I'm strictly against this," White said at Thursday's meeting. "I think it's a $41 million tax on the county and on our citizens. But I'm going to vote on [the SPLOST list] because if I don't we're stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I don't vote on it and it does pass, then we would lose out. I hope our citizens don't vote for it, I'm completely against it."
Councilman Paul Oddo also commented that he was "not voting for a tax increase" but "for the opportunity for the citizens if they do pass it."
City staff assembled a list totaling over $9 million in projects. City manager Joe Morton said that the list of eligible projects was purposefully made to include more than would be covered by the $6.75 million coming to the city, in an effort "to maximize the use of SPLOST funds in meeting critical core infrastructure needs. In the event that certain projects are completed under budget or that a specific project is not able to be completed as expected, additional projects from the approved list can be completed."
One of the top projects on the list is the proposed Fire Station 93, which the city has been planning to construct for over a decade. The recent and significant annexation of land that came with Pinewood Studios and nearby properties caused fire department staff to re-evaluate the situation and choose a new location for the station on Sandy Creek Road. Counting for the cost of land acquisition, design, and construction the whole project is expected to cost $2,222,000.
Another project came at the request of the police department, which has been piloting new license plate scanning devices on some of its patrol cars. Chief Pitts explained to council in June that the scanners "locate license plates on the vehicles, captures it, reads it, sends it to a database and we get a return. That way we know whether the vehicle has been stolen, or somewhow related to crime."
The test units already being used on four patrol cars have identified people with expired tags, suspended licenses, and insurance violations, and can also be helpful in finding wanted persons or missing persons.
"We want it not only as an investiagtive tool but as a deterrence for further crime in our city and especially in our retail areas," Pitts said, adding that the ownership of the Fayette Pavilion is considering fixed units for its parking lots.
A large chunk of the project list is basic infrastructure, including a number of stormwater related projects. The dredging of Pye Lake near Hood Avenue will come in at an estimated $1 million. A number of culvert replacements or repairs are on the list, ranging from around $100 thousand to $500 thousand per project.
Several transportation projects also made the list, including the proposed bridge across Highway 54 which would connect Piedmont Fayette and the Togwotee Village shopping center. That project is expected to cost $2 million.
Expansion of the city's multi-use paths is also a priority, particularly in the West Fayetteville area to start. A tunnel under Sandy Creek Road or Veteran's Parkway is expected to cost $400,000 and would connect Pinewood Studios to adjacent areas.
For a full list of the proposed SPLOST projects, visit the city's website at www.fayetteville-ga.gov.