Arts center off SPLOST project list, ‘Timing was not right’

Arts center off SPLOST project list, ‘Timing was not right’

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Mayor Dan Langford of Brooks, Mayor Eric Dial of Tyrone, Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, and Mayor Ed Johnson of Fayetteville spoke in support of a six-year SPLOST at Thursday night’s meeting. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

The county will soon be asking voters to pass a six-year SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), but it will not include the much talked about Fayette County Performing Arts Center. While the commissioners still expressed great interest in the performing arts center, they felt it was too rushed to include in the SPLOST project list at this time.

“I was excited about it, I still am excited about it. I think it would be a wonderful addition to the county,” said Chairman Charles Oddo. “We thought we might be able to get it on this SPLOST, but the timing was not right. There’s still work to do.”

Calling it a concept he still believes it, Oddo touted the arts center as a potential jewel.

“It could help bring this county to another level, which we seem to keep doing. Fayette County seems to keep getting better and better,” said Oddo, adding that the arts center could hopefully be revisited in 60 to 90 days. “Let’s see where it’s at and see if we can help bring it to fruition.”

A group of representatives from the local municipalities came out to speak in support of the six-year SPLOST. Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial, Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson, Brooks Mayor Dan Langford, and Woolsey Council Member Jack Gilson each talked about how their municipalities would benefit from the funds and how they are dedicated to working together.

“We do want to be good neighbors, and we know that our municipal neighbors are in need,” said Dial, who noted that Tyrone was not in dire need of SPLOST funds, but supported the other cities. “We believe that what’s good for our neighbors is good for us when possible.”

If all goes according to schedule from here, the SPLOST will be on the ballot this November for voters to consider. With the commission’s unanimous approval of a six-year SPLOST now in hand, county staff can move forward working on an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the cities. Currently, the plan is to call for a meeting with the municipalities on Aug. 17 to hammer out the details of the IGA. Meanwhile, county staff will being developing a template of transportation projects that would be discussed at the Aug. 2 meeting of the transportation committee. Recommendations culled from that meeting would be presented at the regular Aug. 11 commission meeting, where a vote would sanction the project list. With the project list and IGA in hand, at the meeting on Sept. 22 the commission would vote to officially call for the SPLOST to be put on the ballot.

The IGA would stipulate that funds be distributed based on population numbers from the 2010 census. The estimated proceeds of a six-year SPLOST would bring in $64,646,530 the county alone. Their initial project list would total to $44,903,177, with $23,741,641 going towards storm water projects, $18,211,536 towards the E911 radio system, and the remainder towards Fire Station #4. The additional nearly $20 million from a six-year term would open up options, including added projects. The $3,555,559 that would have represented the county’s contribution to the arts center will instead be shifted towards transportation projects within unincorporated Fayette County. The hope is that, with the opportunity to pursue more federal matching funds, the $19.5 million for transportation projects could grow as high as $97 million.

Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.