Approximately $7,140,000 of the projected tax revenue will go to Fort Oglethorpe for capital outlay projects. An additional $5 million, from Catoosa County, has been designated for the West Chickamauga basin, a county sewer project to be completed by Fort Oglethorpe.
“It’s a no-brainer,” says Fort Oglethorpe city manager Ron Goulart about voting for the SPLOST. “We have accomplished so much with this. If we had to pay (for projects) with property taxes, then people couldn’t afford to live here.”
The West Chickamauga Basin in Catoosa County has a dire need for sewer system repairs, according to Phil Parker, the city’s director of public utilities.
The county is contributing $5 million of its sales tax dollars toward improving the sewer system, which is operated by the city. There is a large amount of water lines in disrepair, coupled with failing septic systems, according to Parker. The plan is to repair lines and convert many of the septic systems into the city sewer system.
“We have targeted areas along the street and subdivisions with a high failure rate and plan to repair them,” Parker said. “We will go into the area and install a sanitary sewer system,”
The Lakeview area has some of the worst sewer system, according to a recent study. A community development block grant given to the county for sewer repairs in the West Chickamauga basin will be combined with SPLOST funds to complete needed changes to the sewer system.
SPLOST funds can go towards paying debts on capital outlay projects. Fort Oglethorpe took out a bond in 2009 for $11 million. The city secured the bond in anticipation of needed updates to water and sewer infrastructure. The remaining principal on the bond is $9,970,000 and will be paid with the reoccurring tax revenue, if SPLOST is approved on March 19.
“We did it to stay ahead,” Goulart said about securing the bond in 2009. “Phil Parker had enough foresight to recognize we needed to get on with fixing old lines. We are ahead of the game as far as the city is concerned. I hope the public realizes this (SPLOST) is so important for projects.”
The SPLOST resolution outlines the maximum principal payments to be paid per year. Starting at $270,000 in 2014, the debt payments slightly increase every year to a payment of $310,000 in 2019. The total allocated for debt payments over five years amounts to $1,725,000. If not funded by SPLOST, Fort Oglethorpe citizens would bear the burden of the city’s indebtedness.
Based on Fort Oglethorpe’s portion of sales tax, about $5,415,000 remains after the debt payments to be used for capital projects within the city. A wide range of projects are outlined in the document, but Fort Oglethorpe officials gave some specifics recently about the plans they have for the tax revenue.
Motor vehicles: Mayor Lynn Long said approximately 10 new police cars would be purchased over the five-year cycle. Depending on an intergovernmental agreement with Catoosa County for fire service, there may be additional purchases for fire equipment, from vehicles to new fire hoses. Goulart accredited, Jeff Long, Catoosa County commissioner and Fort Oglethorpe public works director, for going the extra mile to get additional funds for the city.
Construction and renovations: The city has several plans in the making. The foremost plan is to renovate a building purchased on Barnhardt Circle for a gymnasium. There is currently no indoor basketball arena for recreation, and city officials plan to change that with SPLOST funding. The gym could be a joint effort between the city and county. Purchasing the building and renovating it was the clear choice given its proximity to Barnhardt ball fields and parking lot.
“Fort Oglethorpe basketball teams are going to Graysville to play ball because we don’t have a gym,” Jeff Long said. “In the future we could host summer camps there (at the gym). It’s for the youth and definitely a need.”
Recreational projects include replacing lighting and repairing fences at the baseball fields. Renovations to the area have been done over the past two years and may be concluded during the following SPLOST cycle.
Another improvement is the massive installation of new sidewalks, Goulart said. Over a mile of multi-purpose lane is being planned for the city. The new sidewalk is planned to extend from Walgreens at City Hall Drive along Battlefield Parkway to O’Charley’s Restaurant, where it will meet up with the canoe launch behind the restaurant. Another multipurpose lane will go behind businesses and along the creek. The city has obtained multiple grants including the local maintenance and improvement grant (LMIG) for $63,000, said Long. The city is responsible for 30 percent in matching funds. Officials plan to use the local-option sales tax (LOST) for the matching funds. Each year the SPLOST funds go toward sidewalks and resurfacing roads, Long said.
Global information systems are listed in the agreement, and Fort Oglethorpe officials say the system is a priority within the city. Each year the GIS requires software updates and as technology changes the programs are continuously advancing.
“The city of Fort Oglethorpe is way ahead of the game with GIS,” Goulart said. “We have marked all the infrastructure in the city and did an inventory of every street sign. We will know the exact number of garbage route stops, location of water meters, lines and fire hydrants. It has a lot of uses.”
The document also allows for land acquisitions, legal services and engineering studies. Long said the city may not have a need for these specific items, but “you don’t know what will happen in four years.”