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June 20, 2014

Immediate county recreation projects set

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Baldwin County Commissioners Tuesday affirmed an immediate recreation department project direction for county tax revenues over the next two years.

Walter B. Williams, Coopers Park, Harrisburg Park and the Soccer/Track Complex will receive doable and funding efficient upgrades as Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) monies become available.

Recreation Director Bill McNair, County Manager Ralph McMullen, Commissioner Tommy French and Commissioner Henry Craig established the project priorities in recreation committee discussions.

French said the county is finding an organized way to spend revenues earmarked for recreation. Now is no time to let the parks continue deteriorating.

“It will make our recreation facilities not only adequate, but something the community can be proud of,” French said. “Over a period of time, we’ll have active people coming in, and our parks won’t be dead.”

On average since the 2012 SPLOST collections began, the county collects $24,500 monthly for recreation spending.

McNair said give or take the yearly projected revenue is $292,000.

Counting the $136,000 the recreation department has spent on 2013 and 2014 projects including fence screens at the youth complex, restrooms, scoreboards and maintenance equipment, McNair proposed a $476,000 spending total to cover improvements at all four county parks.

County Finance Director Dawn Hudson said the county had the SPLOST to cover the work though collections are behind the $2 million six-year projection since April 2012.

“We are trying to build each year and not try to do all at once. We know our priorities will change each year, but we’ll have a plan to best spend those SPLOST dollars at our recreation facility,” Craig said.

Commissioner Emily Davis wasn’t pleased the proposal skipped a county pool.

French said the money just isn’t there.

“In six years, you may have a pool, but all of your parks are falling apart,” he said. “It would take at least three or four years with no spending to get that pool.”

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