Catoosa County will put the finishing touches on its 2019 SPLOST proposal and call for a referendum in May after the cities of Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe both approved an intergovernmental agreement between the three.

The SPLOST, or Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is a one-cent tax that accumulates over a five-year cycle and is used to help fund capital projects. The plan will need to be approved by voters through referendum later this year to begin in 2019, but is projected to bring in approximately $60 million in tax revenue for the county.

After a few weeks of negotiating, the three local governments hammered out a deal on Jan. 12 that will divide the $60 million into $38.5 million for Catoosa County, $13 million ($7.8 million for city projects and $5.2 for sewer projects) to Fort Oglethorpe, and $8.5 million ($2.665 for city projects and $5.835 for sewer projects) to Ringgold.

On Jan. 22, during their respective City Council meetings, each municipality's board unanimously approved the intergovernmental agreement for the proposed plan.

"Chairman Steven Henry and the Board of Commissioners did a great job in considering all needs," Fort Oglethorpe City Manager Jennifer Payne-Simpkins said. "We're looking at doing some in-flow and infiltration reduction projects at various locations — Waverly Park sewer, Applebrook, Dietz, and Boynton sewer, and Lakeview interceptor."

Payne-Simpkins also explained how some of the funds for city projects will be allocated.

"We've also got $7.8 million for city capital projects, which also includes sewer projects that are inside the city limits, equipment for public safety and public works, replacement of patrol vehicles, local roadway and improvement projects, water distribution improvement projects, and long-term debt payments," she explained.

After his city approved the agreement, Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright thanked his board for their hard work during the negotiation process.

"When you look at going from $6 million, which was the first number the city of Ringgold was involved with, and moving it up to over $8.5, that's about a 45-percent increase," Wright said. "I applaud y'all for working on behalf of the citizens of our city. It was very important. That's a significant amount of money, and it's because of the leadership of this council.

The Catoosa County Board of Commissioners will now look to approve the agreement Tuesday night, Feb. 6, at which time they're also expected to call for the referendum to be placed on the May 22 ballot for the primary election.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.