Glynn County Commissioners, the Brunswick Glynn Joint Water and Sewer Commission and the city of Brunswick held their third Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax town hall meeting Monday at College of Coastal Georgia’s Southeast Georgia Conference Center.
It was the third of four planned town hall meetings to educate the voting public on SPLOST, a one percent sales tax applied countywide. The tax is used to pay for a predetermined list of projects that voters must approve at a referendum. It will be on the general election ballot.
The tax will be collected either from April 1, 2017 to October 31, 2020, or until the total target amount, $71,595,000, is reached. The city, county, JWSC and Jekyll Island Authority will split the revenue.
County manager Alan Ours started off the meeting by going over the county’s portion of the list. County projects on the list total $40,462,846, and are primarily road and intersection improvements. Drainage projects, sidewalks, dirt road paving, a new Glynn County Animal Control facility and a veterans’ memorial park are also on the list.
Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey detailed the city’s list of projects, which amounts to $13,832,154. More than $10 million of the list will go into engineering and public works, which includes road improvements, improvements to Mary Ross Park, and cemetery restoration and renovation. Also on the list are public safety expenditures and neighborhood and community services, which include partial rehab and restoration.
The JWSC has two projects, one in downtown Brunswick and one in northern Glynn County. The Brunswick project consists of replacing 3,600 feet of sewer lines and, in the process, eliminating one of the city’s lift stations. The county project involvs running new sewer lines in order to allow sewage to flow more efficiently, saving time and money and allowing more development in that part of the county, according to JWSC chairman Thomas Boland.
No one was at the meeting from the JIA, but they will be receiving $2.3 million to resurface 10 miles of roads and parking lots.
After the presentation ended, Ours opened the floor to questions from the public.
One member of the audience asked how long the JWSC’s city project would take. Boland answered by saying the project will take around three-and-a-half years. Mayor Harvey was told that the city should focus more money on roads than on parks, as many roads in the residential areas of the city are in very poor condition. County commissioners at the meeting were asked to limit roundabouts, as there are three planned for St. Simons Island that will be paid for by SPLOST.
Julian Smith, candidate for the county commission’s at-large post 2 seat, said the commission should work harder at getting the public invested in SPLOST, as the three meetings so far have not seen great attendance. Smith said they could get people more excited for it by including projects people will care about.
One particular item on the list, improvements for the intersection of the Ga. 25 Spur and the Altama Connector, was the subject of the next question. A member of the public asked Ours what form the improvements would take place, to which he said he didn’t know because it hadn’t been designed yet. She took issue with the answer, as the county knew how much it would cost, but not what it would actually take to perform the improvements.
Director of the county’s Community Development Department David Hainley explained that most of the cost would come from having to elevate the intersection, as a lot of rainwater flows under it.
Ours was also asked if any of the projects were redundant. He said none of them were, but some of them are connected, like the bridge at the South Palm ditch on U.S. Highway 17. The bridge was designed using money from SPLOST V, but would be paid for with money from the new SPLOST.
As the SPLOST town hall planned for Oct. 11 had to be canceled due to Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts, another one will be scheduled for next week. Ours couldn’t say when it would be exactly, but that it could potentially be on Thursday, Oct. 27.