Representatives from Walker County and the cities of LaFayette, Chickamauga, Rossville, Lookout Mountain and Fort Oglethorpe recently met to discuss issues facing each community. A common theme quickly emerged – the urgent need to address basic infrastructure.
With the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) winding down in September 2020, local governments in Walker County discussed ways to focus on these critical needs without increasing taxes.
On the May 19, 2020 ballot, voters will be asked to continue the existing one-percent special sales tax to keep funding intact to improve roads and public safety, replace aging equipment and address community development across Walker County.
The current SPLOST ends in September 2020, so a new SPLOST would simply replace it and feature a new list of projects to address local government needs. Walker County voters have approved SPLOST every time it’s been on the ballot since the 1980’s.
The 2020 SPLOST is projected to generate nearly $44 million over the next six years. The county’s portion of the SPLOST would be $28,160,000, while the cities would split $15,840,000. Here are some of the projects that highlight the county’s list:
$9,000,000 for Public Works
- $6,000,000 to increase the number of roads being resurfaced and bridges repaired.
- $3,000,000 investment in roadside mowers, public works equipment and vehicles. Roughly 10 roadside mowers and other equipment used to clean ditches and culvert are worn out and badly need replaced.
- Roughly one-third of all SPLOST funds received by Walker County are planned for Public Works.
$3,025,000 for Emergency Management
- $750,000 for an additional 911 communications radio tower to address dead spots.
- $1,000,000 for new radios for first responders. 369 of our radios are no longer being made or serviced by Motorola. Current radios are more than ten years old.
- $850,000 for emergency generators. Only four of the county’s buildings have generators. Buildings that are emergency shelters, like the Civic Center and Ag Center, do not have generators. These funds could be used to attract state grant dollars to maximize the number of generators that could be added.
- $425,000 to bring back-up and redundant systems at the 911 Center into the 21st century. Some of these systems are nearly 28 years old.
$2,900,000 for the Sheriff’s Office
- $2,500,000 to replace deputy vehicles. The Sheriff’s Office needs roughly 14 new vehicles each year to replace aging vehicles in its fleet. SPLOST would guarantee these needs are met.
- $400,000 to add body and vehicle cameras for the Sheriff’s Office.
$4,050,000 for Fire Rescue
- $3,750,000 to replace one Quick Response Vehicle (QRV) and one fire truck a year. While this is a large line item, it would take 45 years to replace the Fire Department’s fleet at this pace. Some of this funding would also be used for fire station improvements.
- $300,000 to complete the Hinkle Fire Station on Lookout Mountain. This station was not finished by the prior administration.
$5,445,000 for General Government
- $4,100,000 for improvements at county facilities, including the courthouse and courthouse annexes. New roofs and HVAC systems are needed at many locations.
- $325,000 for new computers for staff. There are over 300 county employees with computers. Many are working with devices that are sluggish and out of date, which make employees less efficient.
- $175,000 to upgrade equipment used by our Fleet Management staff. Newer vehicles require newer equipment to be able to diagnose and repair problems.
- $700,000 for county vehicles. Many vehicles in the county’s fleet are 12 to 15 years old with over 200,000 miles on them.
- $145,000 for facility improvements at the Animal Shelter to address heating and air conditioning systems and drainage issues.
$2,240,000 for Community Development
- $200,000 for facility improvements at the LaFayette/Walker County Senior Center. This building needs a new roof and additional upgrades.
- $1,200,000 to expand the Ag Center. This would allow 4H, UGA Extension and other agriculture services to be housed in one setting in the center of the county.
- $150,000 for the three public library branches in Walker County. Despite heavy use by the community, the state continues to cut funding for libraries. These funds would be earmarked for books, technology and facility improvements.
- $90,000 for the Historic Marsh House. The house has ongoing repair and maintenance needs essential to preserving its historic structure.
- $350,000 for recreational improvements at the Civic Center Campus. These funds could be used to attract state grant dollars to maximize funds to help the dream of an all-inclusive playground become a reality.
- $250,000 for additional fire hydrants.
$1,500,000 for the Landfill
- $1,500,000 to replace equipment from the 1980’s at the landfill.
The 2020 SPLOST also features a community enhancement component. Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, LaFayette and Rossville will each invest $1,760,000 to repair and replace infrastructure necessary to grow existing business centers. Improvements to stormwater, water and sewer lines, sidewalks and alleys, Internet access, streetscapes and underground electrical lines will strengthen the investments made by local small business owners.
Click on the links below to see project details for each local government: