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Last look at SPLOST package

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Voters will decide Tuesday if a proposed $63,881,680 package of projects is worth extending the 1-cent special purpose, local option sales tax another five years.

If approved, collections would start when the 2013 SPLOST expires March 31, 2019.

The Rome, Cave Spring and Floyd County governments accepted the project list recommended by the SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee after nearly four months of reviewing applications.

The package contains several citizen-submitted projects in addition to city and county proposals. About 41 percent of the funding is earmarked for transportation and a wide variety of public works projects; 26 percent for public safety; 22 percent for economic development and 11 percent for recreation.

Here’s a look at what’s being proposed, in descending order of cost:

Agricultural Center, $8,000,000

The main building would be an arena for shows and programs, surrounded by offices, cafes and a Georgia Grown store. Space for a permanent farmers market and food trucks would be included in the complex. Rental fees would offset at least some of the annual operating costs. A location has not yet been chosen but officials have looked at several sites.

Jail medical facility Phase II, $5,200,000

An unused pod in the jail on Ga. 53 would be remodeled as a mini-hospital, with a pharmacy and separate areas for sick, infectious and mentally disturbed inmates. The jail currently has four hospital bed cells and is adding up to 12 through the 2013 SPLOST. A formula used by the Georgia Sheriff's Association shows a need for 60.

Rome public works, $5,000,000

Just under half the allocation would go to installing sidewalks along roads between residential and shopping areas where pedestrians have already worn paths. Redmond Circle, Lavender Drive and Reservoir Street are among the proposed areas. The balance would go to repave deteriorated roads that were put on hold during the recession.

Historic Courthouse renovations, $5,000,000

The bulk of the money would be used to repair and restore the leaking and moldy historic courthouse on North Fifth Avenue. Some funds also would be earmarked for interior remodeling that could provide space for some offices currently housed in the overcrowded Judicial Center next door.

Roads and bridges, $4,500,000

A top priority would be resurfacing roads in the unincorporated part of the county that were neglected during the recession. Several bridges that have weight restrictions barring school buses and fire trucks would be upgraded and roads in the old mill villages also could see some improvements.

Public safety facility and equipment $4,400,000

The Rome Police Department would get enough money to complete its take-home car program, which officials say is key to attracting recruits. Most of the funding would go toward a burn building and modern training equipment for the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department.

Waterways, $3,639,500

The basement of the ECO River Education Center in Ridge Ferry Park would be remodeled to house more exhibits and storage space. A community boathouse would be the centerpiece of a second education area off Pollock Street in South Rome, and at least one river trail campsite would be built for eco-tourists using the Northwest Georgia river system.

County capital equipment and vehicles, $3,400,000

The funding would speed up replacement of old county police vehicles and public works heavy machinery. Special Projects Manager Bruce Ivey has drawn up a priority list for fleet purchases that were deferred for several years.

Land for economic development, $3,110,000

Rome and Floyd County economic development officials want to buy parcels of at least 100 acres and ready them with the infrastructure needed to help lure large industries. Currently, there's only one site that large under government control, at Ga. 53 and 140. The earmark would be added to the $6 million still unspent from the 2013 SPLOST.

Prison security upgrades, $2,705,000

SPLOST Citizen Advisory Committee members who visited the Floyd County Prison on Blacks Bluff Road quickly agreed to the full amount of funding sought by Warden Mike Long. Funding would go to remodeling an old building to meet new safety codes, a digital camera system, replacement door locks, controls and lights and a full-body imagining scanner.

Texas Valley water line extension, $2,500,000

An 8-mile water line extension would serve another 70 or so households in the northern section of the county, but Public Utilities Manager Steve Hulsey said the biggest benefit would come from linking two dead ends of the system so water could be routed where it is most needed.

County public works facility, $2,450,000

The county public works facility on Black's Bluff Road — a 50-year-old building and a double-wide trailer — would be replaced and a 5,000-square-foot warehouse added.

Recreation, $2,026,600

Big projects include a major upgrade to the Brushy Branch fishing lake, the skate park in Etowah Park and Parks Hoke Park in South Rome. Smaller improvements, including rubberized playground surfaces, are slated for parks around the county.

Fifth Avenue River District streetscape, $2,000,000

The city of Rome would speed up its streetscape efforts on Fifth Avenue and West Third Street. Officials want to encourage the development of a secondary commercial district, bolstered by the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel under construction on the river.

State Mutual Stadium improvements, $2,000,000

County officials want to modernize the stadium in an effort to keep the Rome Braves based there. New locker rooms, a larger store and a banquet pavilion are among the upgrades planned. Rome Braves Manager Mike Dunn has said the franchise would partner on the work but has not provided specifics.

Rome water system improvements, $1,750,000

The money would be used to replace the 2-inch water pipes in the Rosemont Park area with larger pipes and to extend the 20-inch main farther down Maple Road to increase pressure and fire protection.

Cave Spring sewer improvements, $1,281,000

The city needs the funding to repair its leaking sewer system, under order of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Without the SPLOST, rates will rise exponentially for Cave Spring's customers and the EPD could take over the system to make the repairs itself, according to Mayor Dennis Shoaf.

Silver Creek Trail extension to Lindale, $1,180,000

The Kingfisher Trail would be extended from the Floyd County Health Department, along an abandoned railroad bed to Lindale. The path would link residential areas with destinations including Georgia Northwestern Technical College and Southeastern Mills.

Airport corporate hangar, $899,210

A corporate hangar would be built to house larger aircraft that will be able to land at the county-owned facility when the runway extension is completed. General Manager Mike Mathews said the overnight rental fees and additional gas sales would help pay for the facility, which would also be available for sale.

Barron Stadium improvements, $825,000

The earmark would pay to replace the artificial turf at Barron Stadium, which is slated to hit the end of its lifespan around 2020. A new scoreboard and improvements to the press box are included in the budget.

Special operations equipment, $248,200

The Rome-Floyd County Bomb Squad would get a new robot and X-ray equipment. Funding is included for protective vests and matching weapons for the SWAT team as well.

North Broad Youth Center recreation, $600,000

The money would pay for a covered multi-purpose sports pavilion and playground on land that would be donated next to the after-school facility at 1141 N. Broad St.

Public safety technology, $415,170

The Floyd County Police Department would get a major technological upgrade with forensic equipment, body cameras, in-car cameras, mobile tablets and a new server.

East Central secondary access, $395,000

A new entrance to the school, off East 14th Street and Bobo Drive, would relieve congestion on Dean Avenue in the mornings and afternoons.

Upgrades to the 911 Center, $257,000

The main center, in the Joint Law Enforcement Building on North Fifth Avenue, would get state-of-the-art consoles, a remodel for comfort and safety and security upgrades. The back-up center on East 12th Street would get a new phone recorder system.