Rome and Floyd County commissioners will likely take the next few months to prioritize the order of their 2017 SPLOST projects.
"Everyone wants their project to be first, but the reality is how we're going to pay for things," City Manager Sammy Rich said Monday. There are 25 projects in the special purpose, local option sales tax package voters approved in November, with a total cost of $63.8 million.
However, revenue will still be going into the 2013 SPLOST account until April 2019. Collections, when they start, are estimated to be a little over $1 million a month, and it will be March 2024 before all the money for the 2017 package has rolled in.
Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter said it would be possible to do some small projects early via a reimbursement resolution. That would allow the board to draw on the county's savings account and repay the money when SPLOST revenue is collected.
The ballot question also included the option of selling bonds backed by the SPLOST proceeds — although that would add attorney's fees, interest and other costs to the bottom line.
"We could issue bonds with the city or on our own, or do none," County Manager Jamie McCord told commissioners in a briefing last week. "I'd recommend cash-flowing most of them."
Most of the work is unlikely to get underway for at least a year and a half, but officials want to have a game plan ready by then.
Plans are for the members of each board to discuss their needs separately at first. McCord and Rich have been meeting regularly to share their directives and will continue their sessions.
There's also a joint services committee meeting tentatively scheduled for Dec. 5. That's when two representatives each from the city and county boards, plus their top administrators, go over initiatives they're both working on.
County Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said it's not always cheaper to wait until the cash is in hand when you're looking so far into the future. Interest rates are still low.
"If we could move within the next two years, that's good, but the cost of construction is increasing," she said. "We need to look at the cost of bonds compared to the increase in cost."
Also, some projects could be cheaper if they're done at the same time, Commissioner Scotty Hancock pointed out, using as an example the two phases of the jail medical expansion.
But Commissioner Larry Maxey said people put off purchases in recent years, so the rebounding economy makes it a sellers' market.
"Right now, our cost for construction is higher than it's going to be," he predicted.
The first step, Rich and McCord agree, is to take a serious look at financial forecasts. McCord also is drawing up a 5-year cashflow plan that will estimate how much SPLOST money they'll have in the bank each month to pay for projects.
"By going through it with the commissions to determine their priorities, then plugging that into the cashflow, it will help answer the question of bonds," Rich said. Other considerations that could be weighed, he said, include the potential boost to the local economy from hiring contractors — and the public's appetite for waiting.
"So, there are pros and cons," Rich said.
'If we could move within the next two years, that's good, but the cost of construction is increasing. We need to look at the cost of bonds compared to the increase in cost.'
County Commission Chair
SPECIAL PURPOSE, LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX PROPOSAL
The SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee put together a $63,881,680 package of projects for funding through an extension of the current 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax. Voters approved the projects in the Nov. 7 countywide election, and collections will start April 1, 2019, and run for five years, through March 31, 2024.
• Agricultural Center, $8,000,000
• Cave Spring sewer improvements, $1,281,000
• Upgrades to the 911 Center, $257,000
• Recreation, $2,026,600
• Prison security upgrades, $2,705,000
• East Central secondary access, $395,000
• Rome public works, $5,000,000
• Public safety facility and equipment $4,400,000
• Historic Courthouse renovations, $5,000,000
• Roads and bridges, $4,500,000
• Texas Valley water line extension, $2,500,000
• Jail medical facility Phase II, $5,200,000
• North Broad Youth Center recreation, $600,000
• Silver Creek Trail extension to Lindale, $1,180,000
• Waterways, $3,639,500
• Land for economic development, $3,110,000
• Fifth Avenue River District streetscape, $2,000,000
• County capital equipment and vehicles, $3,400,000
• County public works facility, $2,450,000
• Airport corporate hangar, $899,210
• State Mutual Stadium improvements, $2,000,000
• Public safety technology, $415,170
• Barron Stadium improvements, $825,000
• Special operations equipment, $248,200
• Rome water system improvements, $1,750,000
• Administrative costs, $100,000
An Alabama trucker will face two citations after a wreck at the intersection of Georgia 100 and U.S. 411 just west of Cave Spring on Monday morning.
Michael Tucker, 42, of Lineville, Alabama, was eastbound on U.S. 411 and attempted to make a left turn onto Georgia 100 when his truck overturned and dumped the load off logs in the intersection.
"Witnesses stated that he was trying to turn left in front of another vehicle that was heading outbound," said Floyd County Police Officer Dallas Bryant. "At that point he made the turn too fast."
The truck flipped onto its right side and the driver was able to break through the front window of the cab and get out of but was injured. Initially, a call was placed for a helicopter to come in to evacuate the driver however first responders were able to stabilize his condition enough for transport to the Floyd Medical Center where he was still being treated late Monday evening.
The load of logs rolled off the highway into the parking lot of La Cabana restaurant.
A boom truck from Pettyjohn Trucking was called in to move some of the logs that were still hung up in the truck in order for the truck to be up righted.
The intersection itself was blocked for several hours however traffic heading north on Georgia 100 was able to pass through the parking lot of a convenience store to avoid long delays.
Floyd County Police Sgt. Dustin Wade said Tucker will be charged with driving too fast for conditions and failing to yield while making a left turn.
Organizers of the 29th annual Love Feast are prepared to serve about 3,000 people this year. The free Thanksgiving Day meal runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rome Civic Center on Jackson Hill.
"At this point, all we need is donations to pay for what we've got," founder Terrell Shields said Monday. "That, and some desserts, coats, jackets and sweaters."
In addition to turkey, dressing and all the fixings, attendees will be able to choose some warm clothes to take home.
Donations can be brought to the Civic Center from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday or on Thursday morning. Checks can be mailed to Thanksgiving Love Feast, P.O. Box 161, Rome, GA 30161.
Meanwhile, volunteers have been shopping and stockpiling food for the big day. Shields said they manage each year "by the grace of God" and help from the community.
"Southeastern Mills has been a partner from day one; they donate all the turkey gravy and cornbread for dressing," he said. "And for the last seven years, Pizza Hut has been providing pizza for those who don't want turkey, or who want turkey and pizza."
There's also a group that delivers meals to the elderly or homebound in the city.
Shields said anyone who needs a delivery should contact him by 6 p.m. Wednesday at 706-234-2091 to be put on the list.
The Rome Community Kitchen, at 4 Calhoun Ave., will be serving its Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday, so as not to conflict with the Love Feast.
"They do Thanksgiving and we do Christmas," Director Drew Taylor said with a smile.
The kitchen is open from 10:45 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, except on Thanksgiving.
Taylor said volunteers served 240 meals in that hour and 15 minutes Monday but are expecting only about 160 to 200 on Wednesday. Turkey and dressing is already prepared, he said, and there are plenty of supplies to round out the meal — including pumpkin pie. For holidays, he said, they plan far ahead.
"We're already on to Christmas, and we have so many wonderful donors in the community that all we need is hams," Taylor said.
Today's artwork is by Model Elementary School fourth-grader Avery Eury.