Bad news: most of that money has been allocated already, with a considerable chunk going to existing debts and satisfying rules and regulations passed down by state and national mandates.
City Manager Bill Fann met with Cedartown City Commissioners last week to discuss 2013 SPLOST income and a five-year SPLOST plan.
“Basically, from the $1.4 million that we can expect to come in, we’ve got right at $133,000 left for this year,” Fann said. “That’s not much to work with.”
The biggest slice of the 2013 SPLOST pie -- $425,640 -- goes to a bond debt related to a late 1990 property purchase in the Cedartown North Industrial Park.
Other debts being paid from SPLOST money include $185,899, which covers the recent replacement of the city’s water meters and a $48,000 Ford Motor Credit debt from the purchase of city police cars.
Just over $20,000 is being applied to a Georgia Environmental Finance Grant, which is a low-interest state financing tool that is used to cover infrastructure, water and sewer improvements. The city also entered in to a five-year lease option to acquire a new sewer truck.
The lease amount for 2013 comes to $54,746. Fann said the lease option allowed the city to negotiate the cost, successfully trimming off $75,000 on the initial price tag.
In addition to debts, the city’s SPLOST plate is packed with projects – some that were planned for, and others that were served up unexpectedly.
According to Fann, a mandate passed down through federal and state ranks is requiring the removal of phosphorus from the city’s waste water. It’s an expensive mandate, weighing in at $221,095 for construction of the removal system itself, followed up by nearly $10,000 in engineering expense.
“The state laid this one on us last year and said you have to have this done and in place by February 2013,” Fann explained. “This was an item we didn’t plan for in our budget or in SPLOST funding. The whole thing is going to cost about $268,000, and that figure does not include the chemicals needed to remove it or the future cost of the system.”
According to water department director Donna Atkins, requirements are to keep phosphorus levels at 1 milligram per liter of water.
Currently, the city’s wastewater is listed as having anywhere from three to four milligrams of phosphorus per liter.
After treatment, the city’s wastewater is released into Cedar Creek.
From there, it flows into the Coosa and eventually ends up in Alabama’s Lake Weiss.
Another project concerns the creation of an access road in Cedartown’s North Industrial Park. That project is estimated to cost $100,000.
“This was a $313,000 project that was basically paid for through several grants and outside funding. When we started work on this project, we ran into an issue.
The soil was found to be unsuitable for this type project and the dirt’s got to be dug out and removed and replaced by Department of Transportation standards,” Fann said. “This is another project that came up that was out of our hands and not previously planned for in the budget.”
The city is also working to improve the water and service lines on Gibson, Marietta, Thompson, Central and Jones streets. This project is made possible through a grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and $52,000 from the city’s SPLOST funds.
This year’s SPLOST funds will also pay for $44,000 worth of computer software for the city’s administrative employees. Fann said that the current software is antiquated and needed updating. He explained that the city was able to save a good bit by parterning up with the Polk County Water Authority and entering in to the software purchase
together. “It cost us less to purchase the software with the water
department instead of on our own. That saved us a nice amount of money.”
The city has also allocated $5,000 of SPLOST money that will be pooled with other non-city funded sources to replace the Cedartown City Auditorium’s leaky roof.
Fann pointed out that because the city’s list of SPLOST projects are either planned for or currently under way, the costs are estimated and not set in stone.
“These estimates are pretty close to what will actually occur but
there is some flexibility and variables there as well, particularly in the industrial park access road project.”
Also included in the list of 2013 SPLOST projects is the possible
purchase of $70,000 worth of land. Fann said this project is not a “for sure” bet, but one the city is currently discussing.
The land is located adjacent to the Cedartown United Fund, just off of South College Street near the bridge. Talks are to turn this property, along with an adjoining piece of land, into a public use facility.
The total for debt payments and projects comes to $1,238,625, leaving $133,658 left for specific department requests.
The revenue discussed comes from a countywide SPLOST that was approved by voters in 2007. Voting records show that 1,687 residents were in favor the 2008 SPLOST, with 948 voting no. Collection on the SPLOST will continue until the end of 2013 and is projected to bring in $36 million for Polk County. SPLOST revenue is divided among the county and cities of Cedartown, Rockmart and Aragon.
Over the six years that the SPLOST revenue is collected, Polk County will receive 53.72 percent or $19,339,200. Cedartown will receive 24.84 percent or $8,942,400 and Rockmart, 20.03 percent or $7,210,800. Aragon’s percentage is 1.41 or $507,600.
A list of SPLOST projects and expenses appeared on the 2008 ballot. That list included the funding of business park development (pre-2008 debt), $2,900,000; streets, sidewalks and storm sewer improvements and equipment, $1,400,000; water and sewer infrastructure improvements and equipment, $2,237,000; water maintenance equipment, $600,000; public safety equipment, $600,000; recreation and parks improvement, structures and equipment, $350,000; and public land, buildings and improvements, $854,500.
In March 2012, Polk residents voted to extend the SPLOST until 2020.
The extension passed with 3,354 "yes" votes (61.13 perent) to 2,133 "no" votes (38.87 percent).
The need for a solid five-year SPLOST plan was also discussed.
Commissioners agreed to form a committee, charged with evaluating the necessity and costs associated with upcoming projects.
Several future projects were touched on during the discussion, which included improvements to the city’s recreation facilities, the purchase of a new fire truck, a proposed community center and renovations to the city’s water plant.
Providing a slice of funding to assist in running sewer lines to the new Hwy. 278 hospital will also be studied for inclusion into the five-year plan.