Mayor Lynn Long was not aware of an agreement concerning the intergovernmental funding. The distribution notice for the special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) was received from Catoosa County commissioners late Friday, Jan. 11.
Fort Oglethorpe city manager Ron Goulart outlined the funding appropriated for the city, a total of $7,150,000 — an estimated $38,000 more than the previous five-year estimate. The largest disbursement of approximately $5 million is going to sewer projects.
“The way it works, if you don't approve this (SPLOST agreement), the county goes forward and you get less,” Goulart said.
Fort Oglethorpe council member Louis Hamm expressed his dissatisfaction with receiving the agreement at the last minute, saying, “It seems like the county got us again. What else can we do?”
Though the agreement received a motion to accept, the council members debated the fairness of the contract during discussion.
“I don't think they got us at all,” said council member Earl Gray, suggesting the other council members should have attended the meetings if they disagreed with the agreement. “I think it was very fair.”
Before the council conceded to approve the agreement, Long said he was never given an invitation to attend a meeting in which SPLOST funds were being allocated. The council unanimously approved the agreement.
The last vote on SPLOST was held in 2009 and projected a $56 million intake. The projected intake has increased by almost $4 million for the next five-year cycle based on new retail sales. Following the final approval by the county commission, citizens will vote on the tax in the upcoming special election.
Increases for two city projects were proposed. The Patterson Avenue extension, a project recently completed with funding from Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), had unexpected costs. Jimmy Hyma with Arcadis U.S. Inc. said the $67,941 increase was needed due to the roadway being worse than expected.
The extension has been on the city's to-do list for a long time, according to Goulart.
"This is a project we could not do without GDOT contributions and the permission (by local citizens) to use the right-of-way," said Goulart.
With the increase the total cost is $559,111.52. GDOT contributed $300,000. The council approved the change-order, but council member Red Smith told the department heads that it was taxpayer money.
“If GDOT says we’ve got to do it, then we’ve got to do it,” said Smith.
Two proposals to pay additional costs to Wright Construction for work on the new city garage, upset Smith even more. The two invoices for construction totaled $21,063.11.
“I hope from now on there are no more add-ons. I'm tired of this coming back (to ask for more money). I would appreciate knowing ahead of time (what projects cost),” Smith said at the close of the meeting.
The council agreed to pay all invoices to Wright Construction.