Oconee County will spend $275,000 out of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues for a variety of facilities projects in the upcoming fiscal year, including for heating and air conditioning replacement at the Oconee County Library and at the Government Annex.
Alex Newell, management analyst with the county, released details of facility projects to be funded by SPLOST to the public and the Board of Commissioners at the Board meeting on Tuesday evening.
The $8.8 million in spending encompasses most–but not all–of the project categories in the 2015 SPLOST referendum approved by citizens.
At the beginning of the meeting on Tuesday evening, Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell praised the work of citizen Russ Page on behalf of the farmland protection program run by the county and funded by SPLOST revenue.
Daniell noted the opportunity for citizens to show their appreciation to Page and his wife, Joan, who are moving to North Carolina, at a drop-in session from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday at the Cotton Gin on SR 15 south of Watkinsville.
Daniell also announced the next Town Hall Meeting to be held by the Commission will be on July 10 in Room 522 at the University of North Georgia campus off Experiment Station Road. The meeting will start at 6 p.m.
Daniell said releasing facility project spending was something the county started doing last year to show “the priorities in how that money will be spent.”
Newell did not list total SPLOST funding included as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget, which goes into effect tomorrow (July 1). I obtained that list from County Administrator Justin Kirouac on Thursday.
The 2019 Fiscal Year Budget at this point does not include any funding for the county’s farmland protection program, though Kirouac said he expects the Board will approve SPLOST funding for the program later in the year.
Kirouac said he is awaiting additional information from the county’s Farmland Preservation Committee before asking the Commission for funding. The county had not spent any of the $500,000 set aside for farmland protection in the 2015 SPLOST through June 30 of 2017, county records show.
Daniell said Page had been a consistent advocate of farmland preservation in the county “and Oconee County is the number one county in the state of Georgia for farmland that has been protected.
“That credit goes to Russ Page for all of these years of being an advocate for that,” Daniell said.
Historic And Scenic Protection
The budget approved by the Board of Commissioners also does not include any spending for Historic and Scenic Facilities.
Page, representing a group of land owners, historians and archaeologists, and the Athens Land Trust, in February asked that the Board set aside $300,000 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue for the purchase of land for a museum on the Oconee River at Barnett Shoals.
Voters approved $250,000 in the 2015 SPLOST for “Historic and Scenic Facilities” and $1.1 million in 2009 SPLOST for “Recreation, Historic and Scenic Facilities.” As June 30 of last year, all of the 2015 revenue and $406,543 of the 2009 monies were unspent.
The document released to me by Kirouac shows the county spending $1.8 million in SPLOST monies this coming fiscal year for fire and rescue facilities and equipment, which includes the new fire station on Virgil Langford Road.
The county will spend $1.6 million for road projects, $1.5 million for water and sewer facilities, $1.1 million for Courthouse security renovation, $700,000 for the new sports fields at Oconee Veterans Park, and $275,000 for facility projects.
The report released by Newell at the meeting on Tuesday covered that $275,000 in spending for facility projects.
Included is $100,000 for the heating and air conditioning units at the Oconee County Library in Watkinsville and at the Government Annex on SR 15 on the south side of Watkinsville.
It also includes $70,000 in Bogart Park improvements and $20,000 in Courthouse parking lot repairs.
In other action at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, the Commission gave official approval to the revised 2018 Joint Comprehensive Plan, which now will be filed with the state Department of Community Affairs.
The video below is of the Board of Commissioners meeting.
Daniell made his comments about Page at 2:20 in the video.
Discussion of 2019 SPLOST spending is at 12:00 in the video.