The Liberty County Commission Tuesday asked Georgia lawmakers to let counties to seek voter approval for local transportation special purpose local option sales taxes.
The Bryan County Commission passed a similar resolution last month and its chairman, Jimmy Burnsed, sent a letter to Liberty Chairman Donald Lovette, inviting Liberty to partner in the effort to establish the local T-SPLOST.
TSPLOST was a penny sales-tax referendum put before voters 18 months ago that proposed funding transportation projects regionally across Georgia. The TSPLOST failed in nine of the 12 regions during the July 2012 election. The referendum was authorized by the Georgia Legislature through the Transportation Improvement Act of 2010.
Had it passed, officials predicted the penny sales tax would have raised about $19 billion over 10 years. The plan was for the first 75 percent of funds to go toward regional projects and the remaining 25 percent to fund transportation projects determined by each region’s local city and county governments.
A resolution drafted by Bryan County states the coastal region “as a whole” did not approve TSPLOST, but “the citizens of Bryan County did approve TSPLOST.” Liberty voters also approved. Liberty and Bryan counties were members of the Savannah region that also included Long, Effingham, McIntosh, Screven, Bulloch, Chatham, Camden and Glynn counties.
Had TSPLOST passed, funds would have been available for locally proposed projects such as the Hinesville bypass, Flemington Loop, MidCoast Regional Airport runway extension and improvements to various intersections and roads in Liberty County and its cities.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners accepted three roads in Liberty County Development Authority’s Tradeport East Business Center. The county originally had turned the roads over to the authority, which then had the roads paved and guttered, according to officials.
The development authority dedicated Sunbury Road extension, Tradeport Boulevard and Dunwoody Court. The dedication included the roads’ rights-of-way, said Kelly Davis, attorney for both the county and the authority. He said the authority and its association will continue to take care of landscaping, such as mowing.
The county’s CPA firm, Carr, Riggs and Ingram, presented its audit for the fiscal year ending June 30. The county came in under budget for most of its general funds, the audit reported. The firm did recommend that the county — primarily its constitutional officers — improve their finance departments’ segregation of duties. County finance director Kim McGlothlin said the constitutional officers could have their finance departments rotate duties to help mitigate risks, but doing that would mean hiring more staff. And most offices do not have the budget for that, McGlothlin said.
Commissioners approved changing the waiting period for new county employees to be eligible for health insurance from 90 to 60 days, in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act.
Assistant County Administrator Bob Sprinkel informed commissioners the county had increased the waiting period for health insurance from 30 to 90 days in 2004. The change goes into effect July 1, to coincide with the county’s next open enrollment, Sprinkel said.
The commission also approved a conditional-use zoning request by Dorothea Sharp, for a personal-care home on Sam Quarterman Drive. Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission zoning analyst Joey Patenaude told commissioners the LCPC recommended granting the request. Sharp’s home will be inspected by the state and must obtain federal, state and local licenses, Patenaude said. Sharp said she will have staff there 24/7 to care for elderly and special-needs adults. The county ordinance limits Sharp to six residents, but the state could limit her to fewer, Patenaude said.
The commission’s next regular meeting is at 5 p.m. Jan. 17.