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Cave Spring to start on sewer project, looks to boost hotel/motel tax

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"We have to. We're under a consent order," City Clerk Judy Dickinson said Wednesday.

There's a $1.2 million earmark to rehabilitate the failing system in the new special purpose, local option sales tax package, but collections won't start until April 1, 2019.

Council members signed off Tuesday on an application for a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs is expected to announce the awards in the late summer or early fall.

Meanwhile, the council also is applying for an emergency low-interest loan of $100,000 through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

"We shouldn't have a problem getting that," Dickinson said.

The board also awarded an $82,772.50 contract for video inspection of the system to low-bidder Gulf Coast Underground LLC, out of Mobile, Alabama.

Infiltration is the main problem, with heavy rain seeping in and causing overflows of untreated sewage. A series of spills in 2016 led the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to sock the city with fines totaling $32,867 — and the amount would have increased with further violations.

Under an amended consent order approved Tuesday, however, the fines are halted while the city works on its corrective action plan, and the amount owed may be used to offset the cost.

In other action, the council is seeking an increase to its hotel/motel tax, to 8 percent from 5 percent.

Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, submitted House Bill 921, the enabling legislation, along with co-sponsors Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville.

"It puts them on a par with Rome and other communities," Lumsden said Wednesday.

Dickinson said it won't be a large influx of money. The city projected revenue of $6,500 this year from the four lodging venues: Tumlin House Bed and Breakfast, Hearn Inn, Creekside Motel and Beaver Run RV Park.

"We always use it for fireworks and other events to bring people into town," Dickinson said.

State law requires at least 2 percent to go to a registered Destination Marketing Organization to promote the community and encourage tourism. Council members are asking the Rome Floyd Chamber to take on the task.

The council also revived its cemetery committee and is contracting with a Floyd County Prison work crew to clean up the Cave Spring Cemetery on weekends.