Though the new Cartersville police and fire department headquarters opened December 2012, the city still spent $5,978,853 for new and renovated police facilities, according to the 2013 annual report, and $2,727,238 for new and/or renovated fire facilities. The funds came out of the 2007 SPLOST. Some of the funds for the fire department were used in the new station 4 on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, said City Manager Sam Grove.
Though the city had hoped to pay off all the debt involved with the public safety headquarters with SPLOST funds, Grove said the city council used funds from the city’s reserve.
“Well, we had initially thought that we could do some temporary funding, because we did not have enough cash on hand, and let the SPLOST come in and then pay back the short-term note that we issued to pay for the short term,” Grove said. “But after we issued the note, the sales tax turned down even more to the point that we did not have enough to pay it off. So we last council meeting approved paying off the $700,000 or $750,000 that we were short. We had in the ballpark of $3.7 million and needed $4.4 million to pay it off. So we appropriated from reserve.”
The city also spent $2,366,454 on streets and roads out of the 2003 SPLOST, which included the gateway project on Main Street leading out to Interstate 75. Assistant City Manager Dan Porta said the results were a success.
“We were able to work with the owners of the property along the way, obtain easements to allow us to begin that process a couple of years ago. Making those improvements and the sidewalks ... it’s added a lot to the look and feel coming into the city. It turned out very nicely and hopefully [we’ll] get a lot of benefits out of it,” he said.
Though collections on the 2014 SPLOST are just beginning, Porta said the city was able to use the funds to renovate the pool at Dellinger Park, which cost $1,018,541 under parks and recreation improvements.
“But we kind of pre-funded that rather than spending some money just to do some repairs and just have to, basically, tear those back out to do the big project, because we wanted to get the pool open for the summer months of 2013. So we did that ahead of time,” he said.
For the 2014 SPLOST, the city’s biggest project will involve paying off one that is nearly finished: Highland 75.
“Well, I don’t know that you can necessarily say that we’re looking forward to it in terms of anticipation, but the big thing that the 2014 SPLOST will do is pay off the existing debt on the Highland 75 business park,” Grove said. “That is something that we’ve had to figure out ways with the [Joint Development Authority] and with our partners at the county to figure out ways to pay that off, or to make annual payments over the last several years, and at times with the downturn in the economy it’s been very challenging. So that’s one thing that we’re definitely looking forward to, is having the ability to pay that off so that it’s not a drain on our budget.”
With collections on the 2007 SPLOST nearly over, Porta believed that, countywide, collections would be approximately $50 million less than original estimations.
“Looking at the latest collection for this month, because we only have one more month to collect on the ’07 SPLOST, we’re probably going to hit just under $130 million. ... I believe it was a $180 million target then, so we’re probably $50 million short on the ’07. Obviously, [LakePoint Sporting Community] taking off, it’ll be great,” Porta said of the 2014 SPLOST. “But I think everybody would be happy to hit above $160, $170 million county-wide would be great.”