Mayor: T-SPLOST failure would be ‘missed opportunity’

Published 1:57 pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

City of Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds addressed the Development Authority of Bainbridge and Decatur County on Thursday afternoon, asking for support for the upcoming T-SPLOST vote.

On Tuesday, July 31, voters will decide on a referendum that would impose an additional one-cent sales tax that would fund southwest Georgia regional transportation projects. In addition to funding specific projects, Decatur County would receive unrestricted funds each year for local, non-specific projects. The referendum calls for the additional one-cent to be collected for 10 years, or when all the projects have been funded.

“It is unfortunate that this body or the Chamber of Commerce has chosen not to come out and publicly help us support this project,” Reynolds said. “I feel like it will be a missed opportunity, from an economic development perspective, for us, if this doesn’t pass in our region.”

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As part of the T-SPLOST plan, Decatur County could complete seven approved projects valued at $24.7 million. The unrestrained funding that the county would collect would be $11.5 million over the 10-year period. During that time period, the county would generate roughly $50 million from the additional tax. Of that total, $36.2 million would be spent on transportation in Decatur County, with the remainder being spent in other areas of the region.

“We are walking away from $36 million if this doesn’t happen in our community,” Reynolds said. “You can talk about the regional perspective, but I personally would be dealing on a regional level where I — as a mayor — could have some influence on what’s on the list of projects, rather than waiting on DOT to save us.”

In response, the Development Authority board voted to publicly support passage of the T-SPLOST referendum on July 31.

In other business, Executive Director Rick McCaskill updated the board that R-Squared Solutions, a local manufacturer of equipment for the timber industry, would begin construction soon on a new facility in the Commodore Industry Park.

McCaskill also has been asked to assist the Decatur County Commission in negotiations with the City of Tallahassee and Leon County to accept solid waste at the Decatur County landfill from both governmental bodies.

“We’ve been aggressive in trying to get this business; it would be a huge income stream for the county,” McCaskill said. “We’ve got lots of capacity for many, many years and could take care of their needs. This could be huge for the taxpayers of Decatur County.”

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Development Authority is Sept. 20.