City awaits TSPLOST revenue with project list

Published 4:46 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Money collected from the Transportation Local Options Sales Tax is expected to be received by the City of Bainbridge later this month, and a large list of road projects are awaiting the funds to do them.

Streets, sidewalks, equipment and other transportation-based projects are all budgeted for the duration of the TSPLOST referendum over the next five years, with even more projects on tap for a TSPLOST cycle after that.

Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby has planned for 10 years of TSPLOST to resurface every street within city limits.

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The tax, a 1-cent bump to sales tax in Decatur County on all products excluding gasoline, began April 1. Buyers who spend money at Decatur County businesses will pay an additional cent per dollar, regardless if they live in the county or not.

To determine what projects were high priority, Bainbridge used a system that assigned a grade to every street.

“Then we took another step beyond that and divided the city into four zones,” Hobby said. “We took the highest graded streets and went zone to zone to zone to make sure we weren’t focusing all of our efforts in one area.”

At the top of the list is expanding Whigham Dairy Road and designating it as a state trucking route. Whigham Dairy Road is too narrow to accommodate semi-trucks, according to state regulations. Expanding the road will allow the state trucking route to move from its current path through downtown Bainbridge, where residents are constantly having to move their vehicles to allow the trucks to zigzag through the tight streets.

That project alone will cost an estimated $578,850.

Hobby has budgeted $8,400,000 for the next five years of projects. That’s only assuming the City of Bainbridge collects the projected amount of revenue. That budget includes $1.3 million earmarked for equipment, $5.8 million for paving, $683,189 for sidewalk and concrete repair and $620,000 for storm water improvements.

Equipment expected to be bought includes a semi-truck, dump tricks, various loaders and a mini excavator.

“We are not going to borrow money to accelerate this,” Hobby said. “Money is going to have to build up, and then we will spend it. It will be several months before we really get started in earnest. In late summer, you’ll start to see some TPSLOST projects.”

Hobby also mentioned the possibility of sharing resources of doing joint resurfacing projects with Decatur County, but those arrangements are still in early stages.

The current TSPLOST referendum, voted on in November 2017, will finish March 31, 2023. A vote to renew the tax will be on the November 2022 ballot.