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County commission delays vote on penny tax package

An intergovernmental agreement has been approved by city officials in Thomson and Dearing in regards to the proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, but McDuffie County commissioners have yet to get on board.

During Tuesday night's commission meeting held at the courthouse in Thomson, Commissioners Darryl Wester and the Rev. Fred Favors expressed the need for more time to look into some of the proposed SPLOST funding projects.

Both officials indicated it was the first time they had actually seen the final figures. After the meeting, however, McDuffie County Manager Don Norton said the paperwork had been in the commissioners' boxes for at least two weeks.

Mr. Wester and the Rev. Favors said they would like to know why city officials are seeking $1.5 million to rebuild a dam at Usry Pond, which serves as a second water reservoir aside from Clarks Hill Lake. Additionally, another $750,000 is being sought for overall improvements at the pond.

The two men later supported each other with a motion requesting postponement of any action until additional information was made available to them about such projects.

The next commission meeting is set for Wednesday, June 4 at 10 a.m.

Once commissioners give their nod to proceed, then the only other hurdle standing in the way is approval from voters for such a special tax. The simple "yes" or "no" vote on the ballot will be put forth to them in a referendum on Tuesday, September 16, according to McDuffie County Elections Director Phyllis Wheeler.

If approved, SPLOST V could generate more than $25 million over a six-year period for certain capital outlay projects in Thomson, Dearing and McDuffie County. Government officials predict that it could bring in about $4 million a year during that time frame.

Collections of the additional penny sales tax on the dollar throughout McDuffie County would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2009 - provided voters approve the referendum.

Recently, officials representing the City of Thomson and Town of Dearing convened meetings to approve of intergovernmental agreements between each other concerning the special tax proposal. Officials from all three governments met at the Thomson-McDuffie County Library on April 15 to discuss possible projects for inclusion in this year's SPLOST V funding proposal.

Several other meetings were held before a final list of proposed funded projects was made public.

There are 32 proposed funding items in nine different categories, Mr. Norton said.

The largest capital funded project under the SPLOST V involves the Thomson-McDuffie County Government Center, which is expected to receive a total of $11,510,428.

Funds to help pay for such a joint government center, which would include a new courthouse, would come from debt service of bonds.

A total of $3 million is set aside for construction of a new inpatient building at McDuffie Regional Medical Center in Thomson. Hospital officials had requested $10 million for the project. Officials are now attempting to come up with alternative funding for the project.

Web posted on Thursday, May 22, 2008

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