CLARKESVILLE – Habersham County public safety leaders say they are counting on the county’s voters to renew the county’s 1-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax so that their agencies are equipped to perform their duties.
The largest expenditure is a $7.2-million upgrade of the county’s public safety radio system that serves all agencies in the county. Currently, sheriff’s deputies, medical personnel and firefighters are having difficulty communicating with dispatchers, especially from inside homes and businesses.
The Habersham County Commission has listened to several presentations from communications consultants this year, hearing that a purpose-built system can cover about 95% of the county’s terrain and with a public safety grade system equipment should perform better and last longer.
The current radio system is nearing the end of life and when purchased was not designed for public safety use.
Additionally, Habersham County Emergency Services Director Chad Black said $4 million is needed to construct an emergency services central base station to centralize operations and provide inside housing for ambulances that currently sit outside in all kinds of weather, $1.2 million is needed to replace and equip ambulances, and $1.1 million is needed for firefighting apparatus and equipment.
The public safety component of the proposed 2021 SPLOST also includes $1.75 million for a properly sized animal shelter and $775,000 for sheriff’s office vehicles and equipment.
The total of proposed public safety allocations is $16,025,000.
A Tier 2 countywide project is the repayment of hospital bonds, helping reduce the county’s mandatory debt obligation for Habersham Medical Center. About 11% of SPLOST 2021 revenue would pay a portion of the hospital bonds at $5 million over four years.
Habersham County Public Works projects included in the proposed SPLOST extension include $6.56 million in road construction and maintenance; $3.2 million in bridge updates, repairs and replacements; $1.5 million in road maintenance equipment; and $1.215 million in landfill equipment, for a total of $12,475,000.
The proposed SPLOST also includes $13,610,939 to be shared among the county’s municipalities for projects approved by their city leaders.
All projects identified for 2021 SPLOST total $47,110,939.
If approved by voters on Nov. 3, SPLOST 2021 would be effective April 1, 2021, and expire March 31, 2027. It would be a renewal of the current 1-cent sales tax, not an additional penny.