Stephens Co. Still Unsure If Avalon Qualifies for SPLOST Proceeds

Stephens County is putting the finishing touches on the SPLOST VI referendum that will go before voters this fall.

Representatives from Stephens County, along with Toccoa, Martin, and Avalon met Monday for a joint meeting at the historic Stephens County Courthouse to continue SPLOST VI discussions.

Stephens County Attorney Brian Ranck said he has nearly completed work both on the SPLOST VI referendum and the intergovernmental agreement that will accompany that and lay out how the SPLOST revenues will be divided if voters approve continuation of the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Ranck said the last remaining major question involves Avalon and whether it qualifies under Georgia law to receive any revenue from SPLOST.

According to Ranck, there is a list of 12 services, of which a qualified municipality must provide or have a contract in place to provide three of the services.

Those 12 services include things like law enforcement, fire protection, road maintenance, water distribution, planning and zoning, solid waste management, enforcement of building codes, wastewater treatment, stormwater collection, electric or gas utility services, recreational facilities, or a library.

Currently, Ranck said Avalon appears to only provide two of those, planning and zoning and solid waste management.

“I still, through the list of things, do not know where we get the third requirement for Avalon to be a qualified municipality,” said Ranck.

Avalon officials said they also pay for the cost of streetlights in the town limits.

Ranck said he is unsure whether that would qualify or not.

Avalon officials also said they are working on a contract with Martin regarding fire protection, which officials say could qualify as the third provided service.

Avalon is seeking just over $100,000 from SPLOST VI for renovations to its City Hall.

Stephens County Commission Chairman Stanley London asked if Avalon did not qualify for SPLOST, if the county could perhaps look at that project.

Ranck said he would have reservations about that based on SPLOST law.

“To qualify, the county has to either own the project where the money will be spent or operate it,” said Ranck.

Ranck said once the issue regarding Avalon’s eligibility is resolved, he will finish the SPLOST VI resolution for county commissioners to approve at their meeting next Tuesday.

Also, he will finish the intergovernmental agreement and circulate it to all of the parties involved for their approval.

Stephens County voters will head to the polls to vote on SPLOST VI this November. If it is approved, SPLOST VI collections would begin on July 1, 2014, immediately after the end of SPLOST V collections on June 30, 2014.