McDuffie County, City of Thomson and Town of Dearing leaders met for a joint review of proposed SPLOST VII projects and funding estimates last Thursday at the Thomson Depot.

County voters will have the opportunity to approve or reject a renewal of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in the General Election on Nov. 3. SPLOST funds are used for specific capital improvement projects. This includes public buildings, equipment and infrastructure.

If approved, revenues from a SPLOST VII collection would begin in January 2021.

County Chairman Charlie Newton commented that voters would likely support a new SPLOST since a majority of voters in the region, about 71 percent, approved the referendum for a new TSPLOST on June 9. TSPLOST revenues will go solely toward transportation improvements in the Central Savannah River Area. Newton said just 55 percent of voters approved of the current TSPLOST a decade ago. The new TSPLOST will begin tax revenue collections in 2022, he said.

McDuffie is to be allocated $52.7 million in TSPLOST revenue for local road improvement, paving and resurfacing projects to include the West Bypass and I-20 Frontage Road.

County Manager David Crawley said there has been a 10 percent decrease in revenue from the current SPLOST due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn. Therefore, funding calculations for the next proposed SPLOST have been kept as conservative as possible, Crawley said.

County officials estimate SPLOST VII, if approved by voters, will bring in tax revenues of $21,206,480 over a six-year period. Where SPLOST monies won’t cover the full cost for certain projects, grants and funding from the previous SPLOST could be used.

Crawley presented projected funding allocations and estimated project costs for numerous categories.

Water and sewer projects are estimated to take 18.86 percent of new SPLOST revenue, or $4 million. Water and sewer projects have an estimated total cost of $19,287,457.50 million. Proposed projects include improvements to the Augusta Road Water Treatment Plant, Big Creek Panel upgrades and water meter replacements.

An estimated 20.51 percent of SPLOST VII allocations, $4,350,000 million, would go toward public safety facility improvements and expansion, fire apparatus (fire engines, a ladder truck and 3,000 gallon tanker) and ambulances. Public safety projects have an estimated budget of $7,985,000 million.

Community leaders also want to bring broadband to the community; 22.16 percent ($4.7 million) of a new SPLOST would go toward providing residents this service.

Recreation improvements will take 12.85 percent ($2,725,000 million) of the estimated SPLOST VII revenues. Proposed projects include improvements to county and Town of Dearing recreational facilities, a new handicap playground and a Government Center Park facility.

Solid waste has been allocated 8.49 percent, or $1.8 million, of new SPLOST funds for the expansion of the existing transfer station.

SPLOST VII funding will also go toward economic development site improvements and expansion, the airport, public works equipment and community development projects that includes improvements to the Rock House, the animal shelter, and Big Hart and Raysville campgrounds.

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