Everybody wants a share of SPLOST money - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Everybody wants a share of SPLOST money

August 16, 2004

Albany-- The list of proposed sales tax projects in Dougherty County grows to $258 million.

Monday, Dougherty County and Albany leaders heard from private and public groups wanting a piece of the sales tax pie, if voters approve another local sales tax. The proposed sales tax projects range from renovations to museums to road improvements. An estimated $150 million in projects will make it onto the ballot when voters decide on whether to continue the 1-cent sales tax.

The Flint Riverquarium came to the joint meeting with city and county commissioners and asked for more than a million dollars to build an outdoor exhibit.

The Riverquarium is set to open in less than a month, but original plans to build a "Theater in the Trees" were chopped to cut cost. Now, Riverquarium officials hope sales tax money can pay for that project. "There's going to be an expectation of visitors that there will be spectacular view of river, in fact there isn't," said Director Doug Noble. "This will help address at least meeting that expectation."

The massive deck, of sorts, would also house an aviary, with native birds. "If all goes well this would open in 2006. That is cause for a repeated visit and repeated visit are vital to our success," Noble said.

The project will battle dozens of others to make its way onto the sales tax referendum in November. Albany Tomorrow is also asking for more than $27 million in tax revenue for three projects including an expansion of the Civil Rights Museum. "It doesn't have the capacity for extensive exhibits and programs, curatorial and other educational programing," said ATI CEO Tommy Chatmon.

Another ATI project is the completion of a trail leading from Radium Springs to Chehaw Park. "This project would complete that trail system along the east and west banks of the river. It would also renovate the Bridge house, which would become a visitor's welcome and information center," Chatmon said.

Renovations costing more than a million dollars. The city proposed many projects, including $15.5 million in airport improvements, $61 million in roadwork and streetscape, $34 million in park renovations. Together, these total more than $163 million.

$163 million from the city, $42 million for the county, and today $53 million from private entities. That's more than $250 million in proposed projects.

Now city and county leaders will start whittling down the project lists trying to get it down to about $150 million. Commissioners must jointly call of referendum on the sales tax by September 2nd.

posted at 4:40PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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