Residents Speak Out Against Including Pool in SPLOST VI

The Toccoa City Commission’s decision to propose spending $900,000 of SPLOST VI revenue on a city pool is upsetting some city residents.

Monday, Toccoa City Commissioners unanimously approved the SPLOST VI intergovernmental agreement that county commissioners approved last week.

That agreement lays out how Toccoa would spend the SPLOST VI revenue it receives if voters approve the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax at the polls later this year.

Under that agreement, the city would receive nearly $6.29 million of the total $21.274 million dollar projection over six years.

It would spend $2 million each on road re-surfacing and water and sewer projections, while setting aside money for vehicle replacements, improvements to City Hall, and renovations to the SchaeferCenter, among other projects.

That includes about $903,000 that is allocated for a city pool.

Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson said that number was lowered slightly from an even $1 million dollars to account for a slight reduction in the city’s projected SPLOST revenue based on the terms of the agreement.

“Martin and Avalon get their share right off of the top and that is a total of $323,000 coming off the top,” said Jackson.  “Thereafter, it is split 70-30.  That reduces our share by $96,900.”

At Monday’s meeting, multiple residents spoke out against spending money on the pool at all.

Former Toccoa City Commissioner Janice English pointed out that when she was on the commission, it decided that if major repairs were ever needed, the pool would shut down.

She said she is appalled that the pool is a part of SPLOST.

“My thought is $900,000 (for a pool), is that serving the majority of our citizens like you pledged to do?” asked English.  “That is my question.”

Meanwhile, local resident Bryan Dooley referred to the decision the city commission made recently to back out of contributing funds to the legal costs associated with the Wilbros civil suit.

He said that decision coupled with the decision to fund a pool is not right.

“The city will contribute no more funds for the lawsuit, so you have forsaken the city’s taxpaying citizens in our neighborhood,” said Dooley.  “Then you make the statement that you are going to spend $1 million on a swimming pool.  That is just like a slap in the face to us.”

Another local resident, David Neal, also criticized the decision and said that the city has a lot of other areas that need work, such as improving drainage and sidewalks.

When approving the SPLOST VI agreement, city commissioners asked to specify in the agreement that the money for the city pool meant for the city pool complex, including things like the concession stand and bathrooms.

That came upon the request of Commissioner Gail Fry, who said she wanted to ensure that particular point was not left open to any legal questions later on.

Stephens County will vote on SPLOST VI this November.