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Columbia County commissioners discuss tax projects

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Columbia County commissioners examined a list of potential sales tax projects during a Tuesday study session.

Topic: Columbia County Commission
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Officials expect to earn more than $14.5 million from the 2006-10 1-percent sales tax for Tier III projects.

Considerations for those funds might include updating traffic signals, resurfacing roads, building a recycling center at Riverside Park, building an exhibition center in the Gateway area near Grovetown, upgrading five fire stations, purchasing a new radio system and upgrading Evans Town Center Park.

Sales tax projects are designated in three tiers based on order of importance. Tier III projects are considered the least important.

Commissioners likely will vote on all the projects as a single package, but it might take as long as two months to develop a final list.

During a regular meeting after the study session, commissioners approved a revised tree ordinance that allows developers to grade sites before selling lots to builders.

County rules had prevented developers from clearing and grading the sites. They could only build infrastructure such as roads in potential subdivisions. It was the builders' responsibility to clear and grade the individual lots they purchased.

The result often was an uneven appearance from one lot to the next.

Developers say that by grading the sites prior to sale they can improve the landscape and stormwater runoff.

The updated ordinance also gives the county additional authority in requiring builders to replant trees.

Developers can clear the sites only if an engineer deems it necessary because of the topography and with permission from Development Services Director Richard Harmon.

Commissioners also discussed the proposed budget of about $54.1 million.

County officials have opted to reduce revenue expectations by $500,000, considering a 4.15 percent decrease in general fund revenues compared with last year. Their intent is to provide a financial cushion in case revenues plummet even more. Already the county has cut the budget by 5 percent.

The commission likely will approve the budget at its next meeting, on June 1.

Comments (8) Add comment
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Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 05/19/10 - 08:31 am
0
0
Spend OUR money wisely

Spend OUR money wisely people. Or better yet, try saving some of it for a rainy day. I think the downpours are coming.

Little Lamb
47266
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Little Lamb 05/19/10 - 09:00 am
0
0
It doesn't have too much to

It doesn't have too much to do with the article, but haven't you noticed a lot of parcels that have been cleared and graded, but then left to sit fallow for years with no trees, just covered with bahaia? Why not do the clearing and grading when you really intend to build something?

crackerjack
150
Points
crackerjack 05/19/10 - 11:12 am
0
0
I agree with Chillen, and now

I agree with Chillen, and now they are talking about teacher furloughs, yet they continue to build more schools. This does not compute!

735
Points
Barry Paschal 05/19/10 - 11:14 am
0
0
I'm not aware of any

I'm not aware of any county-owned parcels like that, LL. Where are you talking about? Chillen: I think you misunderstand the way SPLOST works. The county can't "save" sales tax money, and it can't be used for operations; it has to be spent on capital projects according to the way voters approved it. Getting to Tier 3 means enough money has been collected from SPLOST and spent or dedicated for projects in Tier 1 and Tier 2, and the amount of revenue has now reached the Tier 3 level. The county now has to prioritize and build the projects voters approved to pay for with Tier 3 revenue. Crackerjack: This is the county government we're talking about, not the school system. And even with the school system, construction costs are paid for by the sales tax and that money cannot be used for salaries.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 05/19/10 - 11:39 am
0
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I find it unrealistic that

I find it unrealistic that splost money can't be saved for future capital projects. If the commissioners get to pick & choose from a list of projects, then the taxpayers didn't really approve the funds for "specific" uses. So, the money is flexible and it can be saved - and should be saved. It might have to be saved to be used for capital projects & that's OK. I don't think we need any more lighted street signs at the entrance to neighborhoods (Sir Galahad Dr) or a recycling center - that's a waste of taxpayer/my money.

CC good luck getting us to approve your next SPLOST tax. I intend to pull the "no" lever and encourage everyone I know to do the same. Fiscal responsibility begins at home my friends. It's hypocritical to attack the federal govt continually and not demand the same here at home.

Reminder. Our county is not as fiscally conservative as they like to pretend to be.

CC commissioners passed out pay raises to all county government employees last year. Don't forget about the FANTASTIC county lake that we all get to use over in West Lake. I just smile every time I drive by it, dont' you? That is, if you can get by the gate guard. Isn't there some equipment stuck in it right now? School budgets allow for legal errors resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on stacked stone school exteriors. With no remorse or apology to the taxpayers.

Time for some "change" here at home and the tax payers are in the right frame of mind to do it.

735
Points
Barry Paschal 05/19/10 - 11:51 am
0
0
Chillen: The SPLOST money can

Chillen: The SPLOST money can only be spent for the projects included in the original list presented to voters. The "picking and choosing" part on Tier 3 is because they don't expect enough money to come in to fund all of those lower-priority projects; if it did, no such decisions would be needed.

leoswife
0
Points
leoswife 05/20/10 - 08:24 am
0
0
Thank you Barry for stating

Thank you Barry for stating the facts. So many people do not understand SPLOST--Chillen, I agree, if you don't like the SPLOST then vote no. Make sure you know the projects and the value of the improvements before you vote.

Little Lamb
47266
Points
Little Lamb 05/20/10 - 01:42 pm
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Reporter Donnie Fetter

Reporter Donnie Fetter wrote:

During a regular meeting after the study session, commissioners approved a revised tree ordinance that allows developers to grade sites before selling lots to builders.

Little Lamb wrote:

It doesn't have too much to do with the article, but haven't you noticed a lot of parcels that have been cleared and graded, but then left to sit fallow for years with no trees, just covered with bahaia? Why not do the clearing and grading when you really intend to build something?

Barry Paschal responded:

I'm not aware of any county-owned parcels like that, LL. Where are you talking about?

Well, I wasn't talking about county-owned parcels in particular, just parcels in general that get cleared, graded, and sit empty. I know that a landowner ought to be able to do what he wants to with his parcel, but wouldn't it make more economic sense to get financing verified, a firm contract, and a guaranteed construction schedule complete with non-performance penalties before cutting down a patch of woods for a patch of bahaia?

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