Thursday May 26th, 2016 12:54PM

Possible Cornelia SPLOST projects listed

By Rob Moore Reporter
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CORNELIA - Only a couple of people attended Tuesday night's public hearing in Cornelia regarding the city's proposed projects for the proposed 1-cent sales tax to be voted on later this year.

Habersham County expects to place a 1-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax on the November ballot, with the county and each of its cities sharing in the proceeds if it passes.

When the tax was voted on by county voters in the fall of 2013 as an extension to keep tax at 7 cents on each dollar, it failed. Therefore, the county's sales tax rate soon will drop to 6 percent.

The November vote would be to take the tax back to 7 cents on each dollar.

Tuesday night, Cornelia City Manager Donald Anderson presented a staff-recommended list of city projects to the city's elected leaders, with justification for each.

At the top of his tentative list - which he stressed is not set in stone - is replacing a 45-year-old Snorkel truck for the fire department. The current aerial vehicle has given problems with the hyraulics for the past two years.

"Our existing Snorkel truck is 45 years old," Anderson said. "It is tested annually and for each of the last two years it has not passed the hydraulic test, which means it is unsafe for operation. We have spent thousands of dollars keeping it operation."

Anderson said an aerial fire apparatus is required to maintain the city's current ISO rating.

Other tentative items Anderson shared with the commission include:

* Sidewalks on Level Grove Road. A current federal grant will provide a sidewalk from Irvin Street to Slayton Street. Any SPLOST funds would provide a sidewalk from Slayton Street to 441 Bypass, Anderson said.

* Repairs to the city's 46 miles of streets. Anderson said currently the DOT funds $48,000 per year, which allows the city to resurface 0.9 mile.

* Water and sewer infrastructure upgrades are needed in the city, which currently maintains some 47 miles of water lines and 30 miles of sewer lines - the majority of which are more than 40 years old, Anderson said.

* Improving the parking lot for the Cornelia Community House, a building which holds more than 300 people yet only has 37 parking spaces.

* Completion of the city's north fire station, located in the former Regions Bank building in the Kmart shopping center.

* A drinking water well project to help offset the city's surface water sources and keep up with future demands.

* A beautification project to make the approach into downtown more appealing by facade changes to the buildings in Appletree Alley.

* Renovating aging, broken sidewalks along South Main Street.

* Completing a cultural arts center in the former Cornelia Bank building downtown, which Anderson said will create nightlife in Cornelia to support surrounding businesses.

* Upgrading the wastewater treatment plant, as required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The city is nearing 90 percent of its treatment capacity, a number which will trigger planning for expansion.

Anderson said he realizes the city will not be able to fund all the projects if SPLOST passes.

After the meeting, Anderson discussed the public hearing.

"We had a very good PowerPoint presentation outlining all of the projects recommended by staff to commissioners, and very ample justification for each of them," Anderson said. "By no means will we be able to fund everything on the list since the total is a little over $18 million, but at least now we gave the public the opportunity to come and voice their opinion. It is unfortunate that nobody came to the meeting."

Discussion of the proposed SPLOST will continue in a meeting between officials from Habersham County and its municipalities at 6 p.m. today at the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center in Clarkesville.
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