Area Leaders React to SPLOST VI Vote

Area leaders in Stephens County are reacting to the approval of SPLOST VI by county voters on Tuesday.

Stephens County voters approved SPLOST VI on Tuesday by a nearly 3 to 1 margin.

SPLOST VI will begin on July 1, 2014, picking up right after the current one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax expires on June 30, 2014.

Stephens County and the municipalities of Toccoa, Martin, and Avalon hope to collect more than $21 million over the six years of SPLOST VI.

Toccoa Mayor David Austin said he is very pleased to see the SPLOST pass.

“We appreciate the folks who did vote,” said Austin.  “Of course, the turnout was low, which always bothers me when people have the right and the privilege to vote and do not take advantage of it one way or the other.  But it did pass like 3 to 1, so the citizens who did come out to vote did see the need.”

Toccoa hopes to receive about $6.29 million dollars from SPLOST VI.

Austin said that money will be beneficial in a number of areas.

“We have water and sewer projects and street paving that really needs to be done around here,” said Austin.  “Doing this without raising property taxes, which is our goal, so the SPLOST will certainly help along those lines.  Of course, one of the other big projects we are looking at is the re-doing of the city pool.”

Some other projects on the city’s SPLOST list include vehicle replacements, renovations to the SchaeferCenter, and improvements to City Hall.

The bulk of SPLOST VI collections will go to StephensCounty as the county hopes to collect nearly $14.7 million.

Stephens County Commission Chairman Stanley London said he is also elated to see voters once again say “yes” to SPLOST.

“I am tickled to death that it did pass,” said London.  “It will help so many projects, the fire departments in the rural areas to get ISO ratings down for the insurance rates to go down for some of our citizens.”

London said the county will use SPLOST VI money to build some fire substations that will help lower residents’ ISO ratings in areas of the county currently farther away from a fire station.

“The substations will not be full manned stations,” said London.  “They will just house a fire truck, but it allows the ISO rating to be classified just like they were a fully manned station.”

He also pointed to roads and bridges as another very important project.

While a majority of the county’s SPLOST VI money is allocated for roads, bridges, and culverts, some of the other projects on the county’s list include purchasing new ambulances and Sheriff’s Office vehicles, improvements to the county’s emergency communications, and improvements and upgrades at the Recreation Department.

Martin will receive an estimated $217,000 to use on fire department equipment, the drilling of a water well and installation of water lines and water line relocations, a storage building for city property, and the purchase of property in downtown Martin for renovations and preservation.

Finally, Avalon will receive an estimated $106,000 to construct a City Hall building.