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Macon-Bibb to shuffle around SPLOST spending | News

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Macon-Bibb to shuffle around SPLOST spending

Thanks to one Macon-Bibb County SPLOST project coming in under budget, two other county projects could get a little more help.

The fire station on New Forsyth Road, originally budgeted for $4 million, came in under.

"There's about a million dollars left over out of the original budget so what we were trying to do was reallocate that," Mayor Robert Reichert said.

Macon-Bibb wants to funnel that money into other local sales tax projects like the new animal welfare center.

It still needs, "Kennels, generators, sprinkler system, pressure washing systems."

Clay Murphey, who oversees SPLOST spending, says these items were left out of the original animal welfare center budget in order to cut costs.

Now the shelter will get another $435,000 on top of the $2.1 million already spent, while Tattnall Square Park will get an additional $200,000 worth of major improvements.

"It had a leak. We had to put a new roof on it," Murphey said. "It needs paint desperately, We've got some cracks in the foundation, which has allowed some leaking of sewer odors."

Some commissioners say historically, shuffling money around has kept projects from getting finished.

"My fear is that down the line, other projects like fire stations and other things will be shortchanged, that there won't be enough money," Commissioner Elaine Lucas said.

But Mayor Robert Reichert says those dollars can't be touched unless a project is complete.

"This is excess money that was allocated to that project that's not needed to complete it, that's being transferred over. I think this is good stewardship and we were trying to be transparent," he said.

After all, the county can only take its best guess on how much these projects need.

Because they're lawfully required to finish all projects, Murphey says moving money around is the only way to get it done.

"At this point, we're trying to finish projects. Fire station 110 out on Heath Road, the animal control facility, the work in Central City Park. We want to finish these projects so that people can use and enjoy them," Murphey said.

The animal welfare center is expected to be completed in December.

Meanwhile, senior citizens are still waiting for their turn.

That same 2011 SPLOST called for spending $2 million for a new or improved senior center.

Some commissioners, like Lucas and mayor Pro Tem Bert Bivins, say it's time for the senior center project to take center stage.

Reichert says the county agreed on finishing the most critical projects first, like a new radio system for the sheriff's office.

But he says that doesn't mean the senior center is on the back burner.

"We have been talking to the Medical Center of Central Georgia about the possibility of acquiring the old health club building on the corner of Cherry Street and First Street. There is some interest in that by the Medical Center but we don't have a commitment or an agreement yet," Reichert said.

He also said the county is also considering building a new senior at some other sites like Central City Park.


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