Fayette OKs SPLOST list; next stop, voters

Environmentalist Dennis Chase addresses commission at Aug. 29 hearing. Photo/John Munford.

The Fayette County Commission has formally approved a list of 181 stormwater projects for funding with a potential countywide 1 percent sales tax for two years that will be up for voter consideration in November.

County resident and environmentalist Dennis Chase was the only person to speak during the public hearing at the Sept. 5 commission meeting. Chase said without detailed plans from the county that would allow him to evaluate the projects appropriately, he would not support the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Chase also objected to the county increasing the potential SPLOST revenues for the cities, which he considers “an insult.”

“This looks very much like purchasing support from the cities and might even look like buying votes,” Chase said. “The managers of the cities and especially their voters are well able to manage their affairs without our help. Beware of free money, it isn’t always really free.”

To entice residents to support the SPLOST, commissioners have pledged to halt the stormwater fee assessment on residents in unincorporated Fayette County for four years.

Commissioner Charles Oddo said while taxes are a last result, the sales tax seems the best way to improve the county’s stormwater maintenance. Oddo added that he liked the tax would only be used for stormwater projects.

Commissioner Allen McCarty said previous countywide SPLOST initiatives have been deceptive, but he feels this one will replace and fix stormwater issues that haven’t been addressed for years. McCarty said he strongly opposed raising property taxes.

“I do see we have things that are broken that need to be fixed,” McCarty said, adding that it was “the most efficient, cost effective way to make the repairs without increasing property taxes.”

Commissioner Randy Ognio said if the county continued to use the stormwater fee exclusively, the fee would likely have to be raised significantly to address the necessary repairs.

Ognio noted that shoppers who live outside Fayette County will help pay for the tax as well.

“I think all in all this is the best way to go about this,” Ognio said.

Commissioner David Barlow said the stormwater department has been woefully understaffed over the years, and he feels the county has done its groundwork to compile the project list.

Commission Chairman Steve Brown noted that parts of the county’s stormwater system are failing now, and the sales tax would enable the county to address a large number of projects instead of dealing with them one at a time.

The 181 projects total about $16.8 million, with $1.8 million aimed at repairing three dams: one on Longview Road and two others at the Emerald Lake and Koziek dams.

One of the first projects up for funding is likely to be an area of Brittany Way where flooding can reach 10 inches deep in the road and up to three feet deep in the backyards of nearby residences. That project is estimated to cost $57,000 to replace pipe that is too small to handle large-scale rain events.

Of the grand total, some $2.9 million is necessary for replacement or repair of stormwater systems that could endanger property and perhaps human life, according to a project breakdown supplied by the county. That includes the $1.8 million for the dam projects.

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

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.

Husband and Fat...
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Todays AJC

Talks about our voter approved Bond to build Rivers Elementary School and what a bad decision that was.

Voters need to address this splost better than we did for the Rivers Bond.

naturegrl
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taxes

And all the commissioners ran on the Republican ticket and against raising taxes. No difference in a democrat and a Republican. Like a kid in a candy store. Vote NO on the splost.

Gort
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Ah, yes, just say "No" to the

Ah, yes, just say "No" to the SPLOST. It’s so simple.

Use the “Starve the Beast” strategy at the county level. What an excellent idea. It worked so well with the Water Works, eh?

Husband and Fat...
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Gort- Starve the Beast comment

In my humble opinion, the FC water problem was a direct result of a so called manager in a position way above his capabilities and a board that was obviously too lackadaisical. Neither the manager or the board ever stood up and said we need additional funds to upgrade, maintain, ect... A good manager would have identified problems and stood on his head and danced at commission meetings if he knew he needed funds to keep our water at its best.

For the Splost, show me where there are any reports, documentation, ect.. that tell me that fixing this eyesore will solve this problem downstream.

I don't know about you folks in Coweta, but I prefer not to just throw money at a problem hoping it will get fixed. Show me proof.

The other problem as I see it is that the county in the past has not taken any responsibility for growth. If you check out the last county meeting minutes, it was noted that plan reviewers stamp the drawings voiding ownership of all drainage issues. Drive by the new studios, how much exposed soil do you see right now? Then look around for silt fence to contain this soil when it rains. Not much out there. I wonder how much soil left the site on Saturday following the rain.

Its not about starving the beast, its about demanding accountability.

Gort
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Husband and Father of 2, I

Husband and Father of 2, I don’t disagree with anything you say. My comment was a response to ‘naturegirl’s’ post.

IMHO, we wouldn’t need a SPLOST at all if our elected officials got off their A$$ and did some horse trading. Perhaps the taxpayers from New Jersey and Connecticut could help pay for the upgrades to the water system in Fayette.

Sadly that sort of thing is “politically incorrect” these days. They are content to sit on their hands, spout slogans to rally the base, and enjoy the benefits of public office.

I’m sure Coweta county doesn’t operate any better or worst than Fayette. The big decisions are still made at the country club.

We just don’t have a forum like “The Citizen” where we can express our views back and forth with one another. The Times Herald has an opinion page but no forum. Sadly it’s of very little use except for coupon clipping and/or as a fish wrapper.

NUK_1
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Gort: Newnan Times-Herald

I've seen their subscription rates and their "paywall" and you would think they are printing and distributing money. Wow...time for a better business model. It's not like they have a shortage of businesses in Coweta looking to promote themselves. It puzzles me with what they are doing.

Husband and Fat...
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Gort

Over the past few years, there has never been one word spoken from the FC water dept that they were underfunded and in need of more funds for maintenance, ect.. Since there was no squeaky wheel, it made us consumers feel safe. Everything is in working order. Then to be hit with a sledgehammer with all these violations and difficiences, it makes everyone wonder if leadership is actually doing their job. It's quite obvious, the dept head and the board lacked in every way.

A strong dept head, would have been standing in front at commission meetings requesting proper funding. Same with storm work. They would of course have proper documentation supporting the needed funding.

I'm not asking anyone to pay my fair share. But as a taxpayer, I want to be sure that it is spent wisely and with some logic behind it. The presentation for this particular splost provides a lot of pictures of storm lines needing remediation, but nothing behind it that proves fixing will provide relief or cleaner water downstream. Nowhere did commission share that all of this work was supposed to have been completed under the watchful eye of a county inspector.

I think I am one of the biggest proponents for proper stormwater management. The county had a plan in place, but choice to postpone this in order to be well liked. In my humble opinion, they should have kept the tax/fee in place. If the splost does pass, what happens when the funds dry out? See there is no plan in place. Kick the can down the road.

I also take offense to the people who complain about water problems when they live in low lying areas. People, water flows downhill. You should have thought about this before you sunk money into their house or property. Don't expect to rely on any government agency to pay for your poor decisions.

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