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Guyton ponders how to spend SPLOST money
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While Guyton City Council members have agreed to how they would split the proceeds from a potential special purpose local option sales tax renewal, it’s priorities within those allocations they are pondering.

From the current SPLOST, the city has $80,000 earmarked for recreation. But whether to spend the money on the ball park, which is in need of repairs, or on upgrades to the civic center.

“The problem is we have competing needs in recreation,” Mayor Jeff Lariscy said.

Used lights for the Guyton ball park could cost $80,000. The civic center needs bathrooms.

“This is supposed to be a civic center, if we ever get it up to snuff,” said Pearl Boynes, who chairs the city’s Historic Preservation Committee.

Mike O’Neal, the city’s public works superintendent, warned that the lights at the ballpark are becoming dangerous.

“They’re beginning to rot,” he said. “Those lights at the ball diamond have to be taken down ASAP, before someone gets killed.”

Lariscy acknowledged the ball field needs work but also said he did not think the $80,000 in SPLOST money for recreation could cover the improvements warranted at the civic center, specifically the addition of bathrooms.

“We have to make it presentable for people to want to use it,” Boynes said.

Robert Hunter, who chairs the city’s Leisure Services Committee, said the civic center is used more than the ball field.

“We have to make it presentable for people to want to use it,” he said.

Lariscy added the civic center wish list is “extensive.”

The current five-year SPLOST is in its fourth year and of the city’s projected intake of $1.5 million, it has collected more than $430,000.

“I’m hoping we can get some projects done with this SPLOST, where we allocated heavy on recreation,” Lariscy said. “But my concern is we allocated so little to public safety previously.”

The mayor noted the city has aging police cars that need to be replaced.

“We have to have a replacement cycle on those vehicles,” he said, adding that fire protection also is part of public safety. “Some folks don’t see vehicles as a capital expense.”

Out of the current SPLOST, the city earmarked 39 percent for streets and lanes and has spent more than $140,000. Recreation garnered 19 percent, water and sewer were allocated 40 percent and public safety had 2 percent directed toward its capital projects. The city has a balance of $231,000 in unspent SPLOST proceeds.

There is about $28,000 still in streets and lanes’ SPLOST category, which will remain as part of the city’s match for state local maintenance and improvement grants.

Voters across the county will decide on a five-year renewal of the SPLOST, and the city has decided how to split any potential penny tax proceeds. Guyton will put 30 percent of future SPLOST revenues toward roads, streets and bridges, 30 percent toward public safety, 30 percent on water and sewer capital projects, 5 percent for recreation and 5 percent for technology capital projects.

“We’re always trying to keep computers updated,” Lariscy said, “but the biggest thing the city needs in the way of a technology capital outlay is a new accounting system. Those things are not cheap. We’ve been looking at a couple, and I turned my head when I looked at the cost.”

Under the proposed SPLOST projections, Guyton will receive 3.22 percent, or $2.256 million of an anticipated $70 million to be collected countywide.