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County, municipalities will put TSPLOST on November ballot

By Kay Pedrotti As a result of an intergovernmental agreement signed last week by officials of Lamar County and the cities of Barnesville, Milner and Aldora, ballots in November will include a referendum to place an additional penny sales tax in effect for road paving and improvements. Participants in a meeting at the Civic Center included the Lamar County Board of Commissioners: Chairman Charles Glass; Nancy Thrash, Ryran Traylor, Robert Heiney and Bennie Horton, and county administrator Sean Townsend and clerk Carlette Davison; Barnesville Mayor Peter Banks and five commissioners ‘“ Sammie Shropshire, Bill Claxton, Christopher Hightower, Cecil McDaniel and Larry Whitworth, plus acting city manager Tim Turner, city clerk Tammy Folson and city finance director Tammy York; Mayor Andy Marlowe and Milner commissioners Skip Seda, Regina Stephens, Michael Floyd and George Weldon, plus administrator Tausha Grose; Mayor Jimmy Matthews of Aldora and city clerk Linda Waterman. Discussion covered many aspects pro and con about the new Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax. Much of the discussion centered on Milner’s objections to its low percentage of anticipated receipts from the new sales tax. Glass had explained that percentage figures for TSPLOST were based on the same as those for disbursing LOST (local option sales tax) funds received here. Over the five-year life of the new tax, revenue is anticipated to total more than $10 million for Lamar and its municipalities. The county will handle a general obligation bond not to exceed $10,679,286, which is to be paid off through TSPLOST collections, Glass added. That amount would produce, according to the approved ‘splits,’ as follows: Lamar County, $6,087,286 (57%); Aldora $320,383 (3%), Barnesville $3,844,602 (36%), Milner $427,178 (4%). Milner councilman Skip Seda questioned the percentages for his city and for Aldora, which has two miles of roads compared to Milner’s 13 miles. Aldora Mayor Jimmy Matthews explained that while roads in the little town are not long, they are always required to be fixed and paved to heavy-duty truck specifications, by law. In addition, Matthews said, Aldora’s roads also support Lamar County Schools areas, churches and an apartment complex. Population growth and housing developments also were brought into the discussion by Milner and Barnesville officials. County commissioner Ryran Traylor noted that ‘we’re all interconnected’ throughout the county, and many locations are experiencing growth that has not been seen in recent years. County commissioner Nancy Thrash, who represents the district in which Milner is located, made a motion to raise that city’s share by one-half of one percent to 4.5. The motion died for lack of a second, and Glass called for an intermission to allow the individual governing bodies to talk among themselves. When the meeting reconvened, votes were taken one entity at a time. Milner councilman George Weldon commented he had voted ‘reluctantly’ for the TSPLOST referendum because ‘it will take work on our part and a lot of public good will’ to get support from voters. If approved, the TSPLOST penny would go into effect April 1, 2022.

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