What’s Fayette’s Plan B if infrastructure SPLOST loses?

Rapson: Will stick with stormwater utility, issue bond for $5 million

If Fayette County voters turn down the proposed two-year sales tax at the polls next week, county officials have a Plan B to pay for its stormwater repair projects.

If voters say no, the county would continue charging a stormwater utility fee to all property owners in unincorporated areas to fund system repairs and improvements, County Administrator Steve Rapson said last week.

The idea is that in the immediate future the county could use a bond to finance those projects, with that bond being paid back by proceeds from the stormwater utility, Rapson explained. The hope is that the county could fund about $5 million in projects with such a bond.

That’s well short of the $16.8 million the county would get in via the special purpose local option sales tax to fund a wide range of projects from dam rehabilitation to culvert replacement and even routine maintenance by purchasing equipment to clean clogged stormpipe.

Explaining the rationale for sticking with the stormwater utility instead of adopting a property tax on unincorporated residents, Rapson noted there was strong sentiment at three public meetings on the utility to avoid an increase in property taxes.

In response to unincorporated county residents who have complained about the stormwater utility fee, the county commission has pledged to embargo the stormwater utility fees for a period of four years if county voters approve the sales tax.

Yet the homeowners who complained at those meetings also opposed the use of utility fees to fund stormwater improvements, arguing that the residents of Peachtree City and Fayetteville — who have paid stormwater utility fees for the past several years to fund stormwater improvements in their jurisdictions — should pay for similar projects in the unincorporated county.

That’s what some would argue is exactly what the sales tax would do: stick the cities with paying the bill. However, the county has sweetened the pot by giving a larger share than initially planned to Peachtree City, which plans to use its share for road and cart path repairs and improvements, and Fayetteville, which has tabbed a wide range of capital projects ranging from public safety to water and sewer services. Fayetteville is projected to get $6.7 million from the sales tax if it is approved.

The Southern Conservation Trust came out this week urging voters to “carefully consider” the SPLOST, noting that the projects will help improve water quality by keeping pollutants out of drinking water sources. SCT, which manages several nature areas in Fayette County, also stands to get $50,000 in funding from the sales tax to pay for a security gate and park entrance at The Ridge Nature Area, a 308-acre undeveloped site off Burch Road in Fayetteville.

In addition to the SPLOST stormwater projects, SCT contends Fayette County needs to address water quality issues such as urban demand, land planning, low return rates, legislation and personal demand, for example.

Local environmentalist Dennis Chase has argued strongly against the project list, claiming that the county plans to spend far too much money on projects whose justifications are questionable. Furthermore, Chase has assailed the county for lacking a master drainage plan that would allow it to gauge the effects of the proposed stormwater improvement projects.

It’s not just the county stormwater fee hanging in the balance with the sales tax vote. Without the sales tax, Peachtree City officials will have to find an estimated $1.5 million each year to pay for road and cart path improvements. Such projects have been paid for with proceeds from the 2004 countywide transportation SPLOST, and those funds were exhausted this year.

If the sales tax is approved, Peachtree City would get $14 million over the two-year period with plans to make the money stretch out over several more years.

If not, the city could look at bond financing to be repaid by the general fund or perhaps to a straight property tax increase, officials have said. Others have suggested further cuts to the city budget to accommodate the road and cart path repairs.

Because the sales tax is a countywide vote, registered voters from all over the county can cast a ballot whether they live in a city, town or in the unincorporated area.

Early voting in the election ends Friday afternoon at the Peachtree City and Tyrone libraries and also at the county’s elections office in downtown Fayetteville. Election day is Tuesday when all county polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters who are unclear about which precinct they must vote in can visit sos.ga.gov/mvp to access the “My Voter Page.”

Woody
Woody's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/17/2006
I'm voting against the sales tax.

If the sales tax does pass, the county would spend $16 million raised to manage stormwater, but if the tax does not pass then the county will only need $5 million. Hmmm. Seems like an easy voting decision to me.

A vote against the sales tax would let families keep their money that the county would otherwise spend in non-essential areas. The additional $25 million that would be raised from the tax also seems to be for non-essential projects.

If families are having to make do with what they have, then the county can, too.

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/26/2005
Yes indeed, Woody a NO vote is the way to go

I usually like sales taxes because they are funded by Clayton County shoppers at The Pavilion, but lately we seem to only be getting thugs there and they are not paying a sales tax. Which reminds me of a good point - can we tax traffic tickets and court imposed fines? Maybe about 10%. Nobody could complain or hold back due to the position they are in, so why not do that?
Seems like a reasonable idea to me.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/23/2012
Coweta sales tax

Coweta with a nicer retail Pavillion is experiencing less revenue than projected. I would bet that our projections were probably high as a selling point.

Don't know how the tea party commission proposed this in the first place. Aren't these guys supposed to hate taxes with a vengeance?

Everyone I spoke with is voting no.

ptcuser88
ptcuser88's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/22/2005
Taxed Enough Already

Rather than confiscating more $$ from the public, why not look at repurposing existing taxes. Can we not find enough "sidewalks to nowhere projects on HWY 54" that could be cancelled and diverted to the necessary stormwater projects?

hutch866
hutch866's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/28/2005
ptcuser88

The sidewalks on hwy 54 is a city of Fayetteville project, not a county one. you want a city to pay for the stormwater projects, talk to the PTC council. http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/10-09-2013/f%E2%80%99ville-working-mo...

PTC Observer
PTC Observer's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/23/2007
ptcuser88 - Unfortunately

That would require decisions on priories, something that acts against the nature of politicians. It is much easier to ask for more money or increase the public debt. Either way you will pay for mandated requirements propagated by government bureaucrats for additional "shovel ready jobs".

PTC Observer
PTC Observer's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/23/2007
SPLOST - I would

wager that if they could raise $100 million using SPLOST, the political machine would find a way to spend it all, the fact is government is uniquely qualified to spend all your money. This is due to the fact that it's not theirs.

There is no end to government's need for more and more of your money. They will happily take it all, if you don't want to give it up, they will simply borrow the money so you can pay it back.

When will it all stop?

G35 Dude
G35 Dude's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/15/2006
PTCO

I always vote NO to any SPLOST just for the reasons you stated above. I will continue to vote NO until our elected officials regain my trust as to how they use our money.

PTC Observer
PTC Observer's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/23/2007
G35 Dude - trust

You mean they use to have your trust, but now they don't?

G35 Dude
G35 Dude's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/15/2006
PTCO

OK I guess I should reword that statement to "Until they gain my trust". LOL

Steve Brown
Steve Brown's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/02/2009
The answer

Husband and Father, $5 million is all we reasonably expect to bond with the limited revenue stream in the Stormwater Utility.

It has nothing to do with the importance or urgency of the projects.

I have stated in letters before that if the Core Infrastructure SPLOST does not pass, we do everything we can to keep up.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/23/2012
If all the stormwater repairs are so critical

Than why would the county only look for a $5M bond to go along with the fees?

I guess everything isn't as scary as they made it out to be?

Recent Comments