Voters in Rome once again helped carry a $110 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to passage in November. The SPLOST package passed by large numbers in each city precinct, plus Cave Spring, but was not as successful in the unincorporated county precincts.
“The list of SPLOST projects is not just necessary, but vital to the growth of Rome,” said Bob Berry, chairman of the SPLOST Citizens Advisory committee. “We are all fortunate to live in a community that will tax itself to allow progress to continue.”
Projects related to Public Safety will receive the largest chunk of funds from the SPLOST, more than $38.4 million. The single largest project in the package includes $22.4 million for a new city of Rome police headquarters. As part of the most recent Local-Option Sales Tax agreement between Rome, Cave Spring, and Floyd County, the county is taking control of the existing law enforcement center on Fifth Avenue. It will convert that building for use by the Magistrate, Juvenile and Probate counts. The Emergency 9-1-1 Center will also remain in the building.
The Floyd County Police Department will be moving to a new headquarters at the former Glenwood School property off Old Dalton Road. The SPLOST contains $2 million for a new training facility on the Glenwood campus and another $270,000 for a secure parking and evidence retention facility at Glenwood.
Improvements to the Floyd County Jail will receive $2.8 million, and the Floyd County Prison on Blacks Bluff Road will receive $1.9 million for security enhancements.
The Rome-Floyd Fire Department is slated to receive $5.7 million for new equipment.
Public Works and Transportation related projects will receive $32.8 million from the package. City and County paving and infrastructure improvements are targeted to receive $17.1 million. Another $1.8 million is earmarked to improve Three Mile Road, which will serve as the primary entrance to the new Floyd County Agriculture Center near Mount Berry Mall. Chulio Road will get $6 million for long overdue improvements to that corridor, which serves the southeastern corner of the community.
Water and Sewer improvements will receive $13.5 million from the tax package. A new sewer line all the way out from the eastern end of the by-pass to serve the new industrial site at Biddy Road will get $4.5 million. Cave Spring residents will benefit from a $3 million earmark to upgrade the entire water distribution system. Residents in the southeast section of the county will be getting new water lines to the tune of $2.6 million.
Speaking of the industrial site at Biddy Road, the SPLOST package includes another $10 million for economic development purposes. Much of that money is anticipated to be used for additional land acquisition.
Quality of Life projects will receive $11.4 million. Etowah Park’s improvements will cost $3.6 million, while Garden Lakes Park is slated to receive $2.5 million. A new boardwalk trail connecting Ridge Ferry Park underneath Riverside Parkway to Jackson Hill will receive $2 million. Alto Park will get $915,000, a new Oostanaula River paddle-in campsite will get $850,000, and Eagle Park in North Rome will get $500,000. The package includes $235,000 for upgrades at each of Wolfe Park in Lindale, Shag William Park in Shannon, Lock a& Dam Park on the Coosa River, and Thornton Park in Armuchee.
Finally, the package includes $3.7 million for what are referred to as infrastructure and technology enhancements. One of those projects, valued at $1.7 million, will add ten new T-Hangars at Richard B. Russell Airport. That will lead to immediate new revenue at the airport for years to come and help maintain the airport’s status as the leader for aviation in Northwest Georgia. Another $1 million is earmarked for recycling technology enhancements, $800,000 will help finance repairs to the historic Clocktower in Rome, and $200,000 is slated to help repair the old Cave Spring Elementary School roof.
Rome City Manager Sammy Rich anticipates the commission will conduct a retreat early in the new year to develop a consensus concerning priorities for early funding. He also said that talks with Floyd County officials are likely to take place to talk about the possibility of issuing bonds to jumpstart some of the projects once a consensus relative to priorities is reached.