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SPLOST Citizens Committee holds kickoff meeting

Thursday, Apr. 20, 2023–7:53 p.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord and SPLOST Citizens Committee Chair Bob Berry speak during Thursday’s kickoff meeting

The 2023 Floyd County SPLOST Citizens Committee heard about past special purpose, local option sales tax projects, got instruction regarding SPLOST law, and looked ahead to their next two months of work during a kickoff meeting Thursday.

The committee will be chaired by Bob Berry and will review proposals before choosing the final project list that will be presented to voters later this year.

Berry also stressed the importance of the public attending the meetings and participating in the process. He also told the committee to be transparent, honest, and open-minded.

“We don’t want any of us to form opinions until the end-until we’ve heard all the projects,” he said. “It wouldn’t be fair to projects presented at the first meeting, to write them off waiting on something that happens at the end. It’s the same for the projects at the end. If you’ve made up your mind before the last presentation, it’s not fair to them. Consequently, it’s not fair to the community.”

Floyd County Attorney Virginia Harman told the committee that, with very few exceptions, SPLOST can only be used for capital projects. She urged the committee to consider how much the operational costs of a project will be once it is built since SPLOST cannot pay those costs.

Cave Spring Mayor Rob Ware, Floyd County Commission Chair Allison Watters, and SPLOST Citizens Committee Chair Bob Berry speak prior to Thursday’s kickoff meeting

Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord told the committee that to keep things equitable, they are looking at the percentages of the collections being based on the recently-negotiated local option sales tax deal. That would be 53 percent for the county, 45.2 percent for the City of Rome, and 1.8 percent for the City of Cave Spring.

That prompted Cave Spring Mayor Rob Ware to ask if that would apply to a project, like the overhaul of Cave Spring’s water system if the project also benefits county residents outside the city limits.

“These are guidelines, not a mandate,” McCord answered.

As far as how much SPLOST money will be divided, it’s difficult to pin down since collections can either be over or under based on economic conditions.

McCord said an estimate for five years would be somewhere between $85 million to $90 million dollars.

The SPLOST Citizens Committee will begin their work in earnest on May 4 with the first presentations for proposed projects. The committee will then meet every Thursday until the work is done. The goal is to have a final list of projects in June.