SPLOST funds foot the bill for a variety of public projects countywide.
Phil Parker, public utilities director for Fort Oglethorpe, began the meeting with a list of necessary sewer and road projects, followed by Ringgold council member Randall Franks, who also submitted an overview of projects.
First on the county list, offered by county manager Mike Helton, was 95 police cars for the sheriff's office. In past years, 10-12 cars were bought per year (50-60 in a SPLOST cycle, which is five years). But the number has drastically decreased recently due to slim funds. Other items included replacing fire stations, upgrading and possibly relocating the 911 center, and a lengthy list of road repair projects.
Much like the recent disparity and still unresolved division of the LOST (local option sales tax) revenue, the cities are pushing for a bigger piece of the pie. Fort Oglethorpe received about 13 percent of the collections from the 2009 SPLOST fund, while Ringgold was allotted 4.5 percent and the county received the balance.
In total, requests made by all three entities teetered over the $160 million mark, while anticipated available funds fall way short at $56 million over the five-year span. Roughly, Ringgold’s list tallied to $18 million and Fort Oglethorpe’s came in close to $20 million, while the county's request totaled around $123 million.
County Board of Commissioners chairman Keith Greene said although he understood all the requests, clearly many items are “wants,” rather than “needs.” Several of those items were shaved from the list and Greene encouraged the council members to re-evaluate and prioritize the lists before the next meeting.