A work session Thursday will serve as “SPLOST 101” for the Augusta Commission, which is faced with developing a sales tax package over the next six weeks despite most members having little experience with the funding mechanism.
Deputy Augusta Finance Director Tim Schroer said the mayor’s office asked him to put together a program about the special purpose local option sales tax the city has relied on to fund capital projects since 1988.
Time is of the essence for the 10-member commission, whom Mayor Deke Copenhaver is pushing to approve a list of SPLOST 7 projects by March 17 to make the May 20 ballot. The referendum must pass and include $8 million for Georgia Regents University, or GRU won’t build a new cancer research center in Augusta, Copenhaver said.
This SPLOST is also slated to fund extensive renovations well under way at Augusta Municipal Building.
Besides the renovations and cancer center match, city departments, the mayor and outside agencies have requested nearly $700 million in other projects.
They include $12.5 million for a water park, $19 million for renovations at the downtown Imperial and Miller theatres, $12 million for a GRU Mills Campus and $3 million for a downtown business incubator.
With the addition last year of the new one-cent transportation sales tax, sales taxes in Augusta-Richmond County are now 8 cents on the dollar.
Another SPLOST-related meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Diamond Lakes Community Center on Windsor Spring Road with the municipalities of Hephzibah and Blythe to discuss proposed projects.