SPLOST goes splat, runoffs in 3 PTC races, F’ville stays as is

Tue, 11/10/2009 - 4:17pm
By: John Munford

Fewer than one out of five registered voters cast ballots in last week's off-year election, but their choice in the only countywide vote was unambiguous.

The vote with the most fiscal impact suffered the most resounding defeat in Nov. 3 balloting: that of the proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax extension. The SPLOST was overwhelmingly unpopular, with more than 75 percent of 11,873 voters casting “NO” ballots.

That means when the current countywide transportation SPLOST expires in April, Fayette’s sales tax will drop 1 percent (from 7 percent down to 6 percent).

All three incumbents on the Fayetteville City Council won re-election last Tuesday.

The closest margin of victory belonged to Larry Dell, who beat Mickey Edwards by 14 votes among the 1,270 cast in Fayetteville’s election. Incumbent Walt White took 61 percent of the vote over newcomer Patty Hawkins and incumbent Paul Oddo Jr. defeated newcomer William Dick with 53.9 percent of votes cast.

Peachtree City faces three Dec. 1 runoffs in three races including that of mayor. Post 4 candidate Vanessa Fleisch is home free, beating Les Dyer in the only two-person race for the four open posts.

The runoffs will be for the mayor’s post (Cyndi Plunkett and Don Haddix), council Post 1 (Eric Imker and Beth Pullias), and council Post 3 (Kim Learnard and Robert Walsh).

Tyrone voters unseated incumbent Grace Caldwell, with former planning commissioner Ken Matthews defeating Caldwell with two-thirds of the vote.

Cities now must figure out how to do without a bundle of sales tax money intended for a multitude of projects.

The SPLOST turned down by voters would have raised an estimated $135 million over six years, of which $55 million would have been used to pay off the remaining debt on the county’s justice center. Doing so would have saved $21.5 million in interest payments, officials have said.

Other county projects included in the defeated SPLOST were $3.5 million to replace county fire stations located in the cities of Fayetteville and Tyrone; $5 million for a speculative university campus and $2 million for a new emergency operations center.

The county was also proposing to spend $8.7 million on road, street and bridge improvements on arterial and collector roads including New Hope, Lee’s Mill, Tyrone, Sandy Creek, Hood and Westbridge roads.

Another $7.8 million would have been spent for intersection improvements at:

• Ellison Road and Jenkins Road.

• Dogwood Trail and Tyrone Road

• Peters Road at Ga. Highway 92

• Goza Road and Old Greenville Road

• Ebenezer Road and Spear Road

• Redwine Road at Birkdale and Quarters Road

• Flat Creek and Tyrone Road

• Ellison Road and Tyrone Road.

In Peachtree City, the big ticket items for SPLOST funds included $6 million set aside for street resurfacing and $2.9 million for cart path resurfacing, extensions and construction.

The city also hoped to pay down $2.6 million in debt from the library and airport bonds along with another general bond issue. The city also wanted to spend $2.81 million to pay off a lease purchase debt instrument.

Among other large-scale SPLOST projects for Peachtree City were two cart path bridges at a cost of $1.9 million each: one over Hwy. 74 North and the other over Ga. Highway 54 East.

Other cart path projects included $1.14 million for a tunnel underneath Rockaway Road to connect with Meade Field and $1.01 million for the path connections for a tunnel underneath Hwy. 74 South that was to be located at the Rite-Aid pharmacy. The Rite-Aid tunnel will be built by the state as part of the highway road widening project due to start later this year.

Fayetteville’s proposed SPLOST projects included $1.2 million for bike, pedestrian and multi-use path improvements, $1 million for street resurfacing and another $1 million for citywide grid/connectivity projects.

Fayetteville was also projecting to spend $750,000 on intersection improvements citywide, $950,000 on median improvements and $400,000 for a roundabout at Redwine and Ramah roads.

On Fayetteville’s “alternate projects” list were $1.94 million for bond debt retirement and another $527,000 to retire capital project loans. Also on the alternate list was $750,000 for a well interconnection project and $492,800 for a streetscape on Ga. Highway 85.

Tyrone would have received up to $2.7 million over the six-year SPLOST, with $1.4 million going toward street resurfacing, milling, patching and shoulder enhancement. Tyrone also expected to spend $490,000 to pave gravel roads and $485,000 to realign roads.

Tyrone planned to spend $200,000 on miscellaneous cart path extensions and $127,000 on intersection improvement projects.

The town of Brooks would have received $663,000 from the SPLOST, with $250,000 going toward sidewalks and $70,000 to a library renovation.

The town of Woolsey would have received $256,000 from the SPLOST and had proposed to use it on a community center.

Local governments now will have to figure out how to pay for their priority projects without the use of a renewed SPLOST.

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