Commissioners to hold public hearing Thurs. on SPLOST vote

The Fayette County Commission Thursday night will conduct a public hearing on the proposed two-year Core Infrastructure sales tax that will be up for voters’ consideration in November.

If the tax is approved, the county plans to spend its $16.8 million take on stormwater improvement projects in the unincorporated county. Also if voters approve the tax, property owners in the unincorporated county will not be charged the annual stormwater fee for the next four years, county officials have said.

If the tax is approved, some $2.9 million is needed to replace or repair stormwater systems that could endanger property and perhaps human life, according to a project breakdown supplied by the county. Included in that figure are two expensive dam repair projects: the Longview Dam ($1.4 million) and the Emerald Lake Dam ($911,482), according to estimates provided to the county.

Another $3.6 million is targeted for 16 other stormwater projects that don’t endanger property or human life but “are in need of immediate attention,” while 34 other projects in that category which “need replacement soon” will cost $7.95 million, according to county data.

Local environmentalist Dennis Chase has blasted the county’s SPLOST project list, saying many of the projects aren’t necessary and won’t be for a long time. Chase also has been critical of spending several million dollars to repair dams for privately-owned lakes.

The county has been performing culvert repair and replacement under local roads on an emergency-only basis, taking funding from other parts of the budget as necessary, officials have said.

County officials have contended that decades-old stormwater structures are needing repair or replacement, in large part to avoid washed-out roads due to crumbling storm drain pipe running underneath the road. Such a collapse occurred several months ago on Morrison Road and county public works crews had to work around the clock to restore residents’ access to their homes, officials said.

Detailed information about the myriad of stormwater projects is available on the county’s website, www.fayettecountyga.gov, and hard copies have been placed at each city hall, local libraries and the county’s administration building in downtown Fayetteville. The details are limited to all projects that will cost more than $20,000, although the county anticipates spending $912,000 on stormwater projects that won’t eclipse the $20,000 mark on what are classified as “functional improvements” for stormwater drainage systems.