SPLOST VII project totals don’t match

It would be easier for people to vote for SPLOST VII if they knew what they were getting. So far, that’s difficult to tell from what’s been published. Many questions remain to be answered.

We’ve already seen the WCTV story that quotes a total of $35 million for SPLOST VII. And Jason Schaefer wrote for the VDT 5 August 2012, SPLOST project list released: Renewed sales tax would build library, auditorium

The county projects penny sales tax collections through SPLOST VII to total at least $150 million during a six-year period, a sum that could fund a library complex, an auditorium, the installation of a mandated public safety radio system, an array of municipal water and sewage improvements, new equipment for police officers and firefighters, and road maintenance projects.

There is not adequate funding for these projects if the SPLOST referendum does not pass, according to city and county planners.

$150 million is not $35 million. $150 million divided by six is $25 million, not $35 million.

The mystery deepens.

The library facility is the most expensive project, with an estimated cost of $22 million. That price tag includes the building itself as well as parks and recreation facilities planned to surround and enhance the facility.

As a county government, Lowndes is responsible for local library facilities,” County Manager Joe Pritchard said in a statement. “Many have expressed their support for a new main library to be built on property at the current Five Points location. If SPLOST VII does not pass, there is no additional funding available in the county’s budget to build the new facility.”

The library would be constructed in Valdosta’s Five Points shopping area alongside a $20 million city auditorium that SPLOST would also fund.

OK, that’s $22 million + $20 million = $42 million, which is more than $35 million.

Maybe that means that the library and the auditorium are not meant to be funded entirely through SPLOST VII funds. OK, how much?

The price of road improvement projects comes in at a close second to these new facilities. The county expects to spend more than $18.5 million of the projected SPLOST revenues if the referendum passes, and the city projects their streets will cost more than $12.7 million to improve.

$18.5 million + $12.7 million = $31.2 million. And WCTV’s $35 million – $31.2 million = $3.8 million. Which is about 9% of the $42 million price tag for the library and auditorium. Why is SPLOST VII so important to the library and auditorium if it will fund only 9% of their cost? Where does the rest of the funding for the library and auditorium come from? Where does SPLOST VII money for following years go? Maybe that $31.2 million for roads is over multiple years?

But wait! There are more SPLOST VII projects mentioned in the article, and also listed on the Lowndes County website. Here they all are, grouped by topic, with dollar figures according to the VDT article:

SPLOST VII by topics

Buildings

What if we repurposed some of the mostly-empty buildings downtown, such as the historic courthouse and the soon-to-be-empty federal building? Wouldn’t that be less expensive and more centrally-located than building new buildings?
  • $22 million Lowndes County library and parks at Five Points
  • $20 million Valdosta municipal auditorium at Five Points
  • $ 4 million Lowndes County historic courthouse renovation and restoration
  • $ 0.5 million Valdosta City Hall renovation
  • $ 0.558 million Hahira City Hall improvement
  • $ 0.692 million Remerton municipal facilities
  • $ 0.438 million Dasher museum and library
  • $ 0.100 million Lake Park equipment and property for city maintenance
  • $ 0.057 million Lake Park City Hall improvement
  • $48.345 million subtotal Buildings

Water projects

Water-related projects turn out to be very close behind all the building projects for total expenditures. Leave out the library, and water wins hands-down.
  • $16 million Lowndes County water and sewer
  • $14 million Valdosta water and sewer
  • $11.4 million Valdosta bond and loan debt for existing wastewater improvements
  • $ 1.250 million Hahira water and sewer
  • $ 0.450 million Remerton water and sewer
  • $ 0.125 million Dasher water and sewer
  • $ 0.350 million Lake Park water and sewer
  • $ 3.500 million Valdosta drainage infrastructure
  • $47.050 million subtotal Water

Road Projects

Where’s the list of the various county and city road projects? What’s being paved and widened? What got pulled in from the failed T-SPLOST list? Does it include widening old US 41 North?
  • $18.5 million Lowndes County road projects
  • $12.7 million Valdosta road projects
  • $ 0.750 million Hahira roads, drainage, sidewalks
  • $ 0.150 million Remerton road projects
  • $ 0.438 million Dasher road projects
  • $ 0.250 million Lake Park road projects
  • $32.788 subtotal Roads

Fire and Law enforcement

Let’s hope none of this includes another tank.
  • $ 5 million Lowndes County fire and law enforcement
  • $ 4.1 million Valdosta fire and law enforcement
  • $ 0.8 million Hahira police and fire equipment
  • $ 0.250 million Remerton public safety vehicles
  • $ 0.150 million Lake Park police and fire equipment
  • $10.3 million subtotal Fire and Law enforcement

Communications

Has the county organized this $8 million for communications so that it can help support county-wide fast Internet access for the people of the county?
  • $4 million Lowndes County public safety radio system
  • $4 million Valdosta public safety radio system
  • $8 million subtotal Communications

Other

Interesting that Valdosta puts sanitation vehicles on its SPLOST budget but Lowndes County is aiming at privatizing waste collection and making county citizens pay private companies for that.
  • $2.4 million Valdosta sanitation vehicles
  • $1 million Valdosta master plan projects (downtown)
  • $3.4 million subtotal Other

Parks and Recreation

Wait, don’t we already pay 1.25 mil in property taxes for Parks and Rec?
  • $1.2 million Valdosta parks and recreation
  • $0.4 million Hahira parks and recreation
  • $0.25 million Dasher parks and recreation
  • $1.85 million subtotal Parks and Recreation

That all appears to add up to $151.738 million, which is at least close to the $150 million total SPLOST VII figure given by the VDT. What is the SPLOST VII year-by-year budget for those six years, anyway? More later on whatever is available to answer these questions.

-jsq

1 thought on “SPLOST VII project totals don’t match

  1. Stephanie Coop

    Very informative post.
    Thanks for your efforts in laying it out so people can easily discern the facts

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