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County makes plans for SPLOST projects list
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Effingham County commissioners are forging ahead with plans for a potential next round of special local option sales tax.
County officials are planning on another five-year SPLOST bringing in $70 million. The SPLOST will be voted on in a Nov. 2 referendum as part of the general election. If approved, the one-cent sales tax will go into effect in 2012.
But one item that likely won’t be receiving SPLOST funding is the Effingham Hospital’s modernization and expansion plans.
Discussion among county representatives and officials from the three municipalities included putting what is known as a Level 1 project — for which the money needed will come off the top — on the SPLOST list. A new sheriff’s jail and administrative complex, with an estimated price tag of $16 million, will be the Level 1 project for the next proposed SPLOST.
That leaves the remaining anticipated $54 million to be divided among the county and the cities, based on population. The division will be drawn up on current population counts, but that will change with the decennial Census.
“We’ll have the Census count before this resolution goes into effect,” County Administrator David Crawley said. “We’ll adjust the percentages at that time.”
Under current population figures, Guyton would receive $1.37 million, Rincon would net $6.2 million and Springfield would get $2.7 million in SPLOST proceeds. The county would receive approximately $43.7 million in SPLOST under the projections.
With those figures, the county is looking at spending $32.5 million on roads, streets and bridges, $1.1 million on drainage capital outlay projects, $2.69 million on public buildings. $4 million on recreation, $2.87 million on vehicles and heavy equipment and $600,000 on technology.
Crawley explained the $2.87 million on vehicles and equipment would go toward purchasing such items as fire trucks and ambulances.
Commissioners also asked about using SPLOST money for the library system, but SPLOST proceeds can only go toward capital projects, such as a new building, and not toward maintenance and operations.
Hospital Authority Chairman Rick Rafter said the Department of Housing and Urban Development would require a specific dollar amount of
SPLOST proceeds.
“HUD is going to hold our feet to the fire as far as getting the money,” he said. 
Rafter expressed his confidence that the hospital would get the full amount of the Build America bonds it is seeking from HUD for its expansion and modernization.
“I want to make sure we don’t muddy the waters,” Rafter said.
In passing their resolution earlier this month in support of the hospital, commissioners included using $10 million in SPLOST money to reduce the county’s commitment. Rafter said HUD would require that money at the closing of the loan. With the next SPLOST, if approved, not scheduled to start until 2012, that $10 million would not be available. The Build America bonds are expected to cease existence after Dec. 31.
Crawley suggested not creating issues with the SPLOST proceeds.
“I think we need to leave this like it is, and let the hospital go forward,” Commissioner Verna Phillips said. 
The final SPLOST county numbers also are awaiting if Guyton will accept a deal from the county to extend a force main to the city and tie into the county’s wastewater treatment plant. The cost of the force main and extending that line to the city is pegged at around $5 million.