Contact: Honorable Tom Worthan
Douglas County Courthouse 8700 Hospital Drive
Douglasville, Georgia 30134
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners and the Mayor and Councils of the cities of Austell, Douglasville, and Villa Rica are presenting a referendum to the Public on September 18th requesting a one percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for a six-year period to begin January 1st, 2008, to fund capital improvement projects that were determined by the respective governments.
Monies from the SPLOST will be utilized by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, and the Cities of Austell, Douglasville, and Villa Rica for projects determined by each governing body. It is anticipated that approximately $166 million will be raised over the six-year period for capital projects. This $166 million is estimated using a two percent growth rate in the Douglas County economy, a conservative estimate since the growth rate has been approximately six percent since the year 2000. However, since economic trends are, at best, a gaze into the crystal ball, caution and conservatism are being exercised. If adopted by Douglas County citizens, the six-year SPLOST will be implemented January 1, 2008, and will expire December 31, 2013.
Monies collected from the SPLOST must be used by the respective governments for identified and generalized capital improvement projects, i.e., construction, equipment, project management, bond costs, engineering directly associated with construction projects and equipment purchases. SPLOST funds may not be used to pay salaries or operational expenses of government.
With the law enforcement center taking 50 percent of the SPLOST issue ($83 million), the remaining $83 million over six years is proposed to be divided among the participating governments, somewhat in proportion to relative populations but also considering joint project funding among governments.
City of Austell: $ 116,200
City of Douglasville: $18,069,100
City of Villa Rica: $2,697,500
Douglas County: $62,117,200.
Douglas County Prospective Projects
The approximate $62 million allocated from the SPLOST to Douglas County will be used to fund the following projects.
Parks and Recreation: $14 million
Lithia Springs Park The County recently purchased almost 17 acres of land in Lithia Springs at the intersection of Mt. Vernon Road and Skyview Drive for a new recreational complex to replace the current Woodrow Wilson Park and Lithia Springs Girls Park. These parks, which date back many years, are regularly flooded by Sweetwater Creek and have become unusable and unsafe, so a new park is mandated. The new park will feature a four baseball field-hub complex with concession stand and rest rooms, sodded fields, and Musco lighting, as well as a pavilion for basketball and other uses.
Chestnut Log Soccer Complex The Chestnut Log Soccer Complex was developed by the County and volunteers on Board of Education property adjacent to Chestnut Log Middle School, and these soccer fields are used by over 800 kids. To ensure that this facility can continue to be used for soccer, the County is seeking to purchase the property, and we are requesting funding to do so from our citizens in the September SPLOST referendum. We are also currently working on developing a lighting program for these fields, so that night soccer games and practices can be held.
New Senior Citizens Center and Community Building, Lithia Springs The 2002 SPLOST funded the construction of the Woodie Fite Center, our new facility for active seniors ages 55 and up. The Center and its programs are full to capacity - the Center sponsors dances, clubs, travel, and classes in art, computers, and music, to mention a few. Our senior population grew by 100 percent over the past ten years, and is predicted to grow again by another 100 percent in the next ten years, and the County is committed to ensuring a positive quality of life for our senior citizens.
To serve the growing senior population, a new senior citizens center will be constructed on County property in Lithia Springs adjacent to the new Fire Station No. 1 on South Sweetwater/Groover's Lake Roads. This center will feature a full roster of activities and services to our seniors.
There is also a need for meeting rooms for our citizens, so the new center will include additional rooms available to the community for use.
Gymnasium/Recreational Facility/YMCA Project of the City of Douglasville, Hunter Park: $6 million Douglas County contribution to a City of Douglasville project
Fire/EMS Department: $1.5 million
Industrial District Fire Station The southeastern area of Douglas County now is home to many industries that have created jobs and revenue for our County. Georgia Highway 6/Camp Creek Parkway is a major transportation corridor that connects Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Interstate 20, and the Norfolk Southern multi-modal terminal, and therefore, is attracting investment and creating jobs. This area is also underserved by the Douglas County Fire/EMS Department since the nearest fire station is approximately 5 miles away. A new fire station will be constructed in this general area and equipped with fire apparatus.
Library and Performing Arts Center: $20 million
Headquarters Library, Chapel Hill Corridor Douglas County currently has two libraries, one on Selman Drive in Douglasville and one on Junior High Drive in Lithia Springs. Both libraries are at capacity - one of every three Douglas County citizens has a library card. Both libraries are more than 20 years old, and usage continues to increase. Both libraries are also located north of Interstate 20 because that is where the population centers were over 20 years ago. Each library approximates 15,000 square feet.
The SPLOST will fund a new 35,000 square foot library in the Chapel Hill corridor area that will become the headquarters library for the County system, and also begin to serve County citizens south of Interstate 20. The new library will include all media, including computers, research facilities, and meeting rooms.
The exact location of the new library is to be determined.
Performing Arts Center, Chapel Hill Corridor Douglas County does not have a public performing arts facility, and our artists and groups must rely on school theatres and small private spaces to present their craft. The SPLOST will fund a performing arts center that will most probably have a seating capacity of 750 - 1000, plus stage and support service spaces. Depending on the location of the new headquarters library and the land available, the Performing Arts Center may be located with the library, or it may be at a separate location.
The Library and Performing Arts Center will be designed and funded with construction bonds secured by the SPLOST funds, so that these facilities can proceed and be used as soon as possible by our citizens. The project cost estimates include the cost of bonds, design and construction.
Roads, Bridges and Transportation Projects: $26 million
Douglas County leverages local funds to match State and Federal funding as much as possible to be able to construct more projects than we could do ourselves. All major projects in Douglas County must be on the regional Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) to qualify for State and Federal funding, and projects move up and down in priority for many reasons, but mainly due to the availability of local matching funds. Douglas County "competes" for these funds with all of the other Atlanta metropolitan counties and cities, and continuously works to have our projects prioritized on the TIP, which is maintained by the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The County can identify what we feel are our most-needed projects, but to receive State and Federal funding assistance, the ARC and GDOT must agree. Their agreement is significant, as the State and Federal portion of the project costs can reach up to 75 percent, which means that our SPLOST dollars pay only 25 percent of the costs, as opposed to 100 percent, our dollars are spread farther, and we can complete more projects. The downside is that the process to receive State and Federal monies is sometimes lengthy, and our projects are delayed until they rise to funding level on the TIP.
Projects for which we have requested funding include the following.
Intersection Improvement/Reconstruction Projects Bright Star Road at Cowan Mill Road Kings Highway at Yeager Road East County Line Road at North County Line Road Pope Road at Bomar Road Groover's Lake Road at Vulcan Drive Dorsett Shoals Road at Coursey Lake Road Post Road at Mason Creek Road Bankhead Highway at Mann Road - State project Bankhead Highway at Baggett Road - State project
Bridge Improvement/Reconstruction Projects Skyview Drive at Sweetwater Creek Mt. Vernon Road at Sweetwater Creek State Park
Roadway Projects Bomar Road Connector Chapel Hill Road Widening (Stewarts Mill Road to Central Church Road)
The $25 million funded by the SPLOST will be used to match State and Federal funding for projects that Douglas County can get qualified for assistance, and to construct local projects that do not qualify for State and Federal assistance, such as resurfacing/reconstruction of local streets and small intersection projects.
Bright Star Road Connector Project, City of Douglasville: $1 million Douglas County contribution to a City of Douglasville project
Renovation of the Current Blake Gammill Sheriff's Office Administration Building for Douglas County Department of Transportation and Douglas County Fire/EMS Headquarters: $1 million