County gets first SPLOST check

By Billy Corriher

Clayton County received its first check for $3.1 million, less than the county had hoped, for revenue from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax last week. The funds came from the state government, which processes the penny sales tax, and includes the revenue collected in January.

The county is expecting to garner $240 million over five years from the SPLOST, and the $3.1 million is less than the county needs every month to meet that goal.

Crandle Bray, chairman of the county commissioners, said the first check was about $500,000 short of what the county hoped for. But he said it was too early to determine if the county would need to change its plans to build six new recreation centers, an aquatic center and improve county roads.

"It'll be about two or three months before we can see if we need to do anything different with the projects," he said.

Wade Starr, who works with the SPLOST fund for the county commissioners, said January is not a high-revenue month, and the county expects revenues to go up.

"The $240 million is projected over five years, and we're expecting some growth during that time," Starr said.

The county commissioners will consider a recommended architect for the recreation centers and a recommended contractor for the aquatic center at its meeting on Tuesday.

And though the recreation projects are still in the development stages, the county could soon begin work on resurfacing roads, said Wayne Patterson, director of transportation and development.

"That's one of our biggest priorities with the SPLOST funding," he said.

Patterson said the county plans to resurface 1,700 streets over the next five or six years, and bids for the construction of new roads and sidewalks are coming now.

Patterson said that if the revenue from the SPLOST doesn't pick up, the road projects will be adjusted as needed.

"We'll monitor (SPLOST revenue), and we'll appropriate the money for the projects as it comes in," he said.

If needed, Patterson said the county could postpone or scale down some projects.

Starr said the county could eliminate work on some of the streets that don't need maintenance as much, but he said the county wouldn't cut funding for the recreation centers.

"We'll get the recreation projects done," he said.

The county is anticipating $40 million in SPLOST revenue to fund the six new recreation centers across the county.

The county Board of Education is helping out with the $8 million price tag on the aquatic center, which will include a gymnasium and a 50-meter swimming pool.