City makes changes to proposed SPLOST projects - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City makes changes to proposed SPLOST projects

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VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

Valdosta City leaders came up with a new plan to pay for a new wastewater treatment plant after millions of gallons of raw sewage flowed into waterways during recent flooding.

They hope voters will have a change of heart and will approve a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax after defeating the referendum last year. They've made sewer issues the top SPLOST project. WALB News Ten's Lydia Jennings tells what other projects are in and what is out.

SPLOST VII isn't gone for good. Valdosta and Lowndes County voters can expect to see it back on the ballot in November. The one-penny sales tax is expected to generate $80-million for the city. And city leaders plan to use 70-percent of that to fix the waste water treatment plant after FEMA denied the city's multiple appeals for funding.

"August 1st FEMA denied the claim so this is the first opportunity we've had to, based upon that decision, to reallocate our SPLOST money to now take care of those needs with local funds rather than any expected federal funds," said City Manager, Larry Hanson.

The engineering department will get the second biggest chunk, $12.7 million dollars.

"We have nearly 300 miles of roads, they have to be maintained, they have to be resurfaced, they have to be repaired," said Hanson.

But some previously planned projects have been cut from the SPLOST seven referendum.

The Five Points project and the building of a new municipal auditorium have both been put on the back burner.

"For a community to grow and prosper and be a place where businesses want to locate and employees want to live, there are certain amenities that are necessary, but when you have a major infrastructure need like we do and the wastewater system right now, that has to take precedence," said Hanson.

Hanson says now it's up to voters to help improve the city. "I trust in voters of the community that when they're educated about projects and the need for them that they'll see how it improves their quality of life and addresses needs in the community, that they'll vote for it."

Last November Valdosta voters passed SPLOST VII but county voters turned it down, ultimately killing the entire referendum.

The city hopes to have a main sewer line for the wastewater treatment plant finished by August 2014 and relocate the plant by August 2015.

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