RINGGOLD, Ga. — When Catoosa County voters approved the fourth special purpose local option sales tax in September, county recreation director Dennis Johnson began making plans for the $500,000 set aside for Jack Maddox Recreation Center.
“We need batting cages,” Mr. Johnson said. “And we want to build a playground for the little kids. We want to do as many things as we can to make this a family-friendly place. And we have got a lot of bang for our SPLOST buck.”
The SPLOST cycle begins next July, but Catoosa County officials are still spending money from the 2004 SPLOST on sewers, roads, municipal buildings, recreational facilities and emergency and rescue equipment and facilities.
“Thank God for SPLOST,” said County Commissioner Ken Marks, who was recently re-elected to a second four-year term. “About 70 cents of every SPLOST dollar comes from outside the county and that takes pressure off the homeowner. And that gives us the money we need to grow and build infrastructure.”
The 2009 cycle is estimated to generate about $56 million over four years. Fort Oglethorpe expects to receive $7.2 million and Ringgold will net about $2.5 million.
“I can assure you the No. 1 priority is going to be sewers,” Fort Oglethorpe City Manager Ron Goulart said. “We are going to complete West Chickamauga sewer and eliminate the Mitchell Acres oxidation pond.”
Work on phase 1 of the West Chickamauga Basin sewer and pump station is winding up. Sewers in the Mack Smith Road area around North Avenue are complete and repaving of those roads will start before the end of the year. Workers have been using the last of the sewer line, which goes under the Colonial Gas Co. pipeline off Ann Road and Mack Smith Road.
Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright said the city’s commercial growth is along the recently annexed Battlefield Parkway, state Highway 151 South and the Truck City complex at U.S. Highway 41 and Interstate 75.
SPLOST money will be used to begin a $4 million sewer expansion for that area, Mr. Wright said.
Fort Oglethorpe has received $12.9 million, and Ringgold was allocated $4 million since the tax was first passed in 1994. The distribution list for the 2009 SPLOST earmarks 12.7 percent of collections for Fort Oglethorpe and 4.5 percent for Ringgold.
The 10-year-old Jack Maddox Recreation Center was built with SPLOST money, as were recreational facilities in Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe, officials said. Recreation builds the quality of life that assists the community in the promotion of economic development, officials said.
With the planned $1 billion VW assembly plant to Chattanooga, Catoosa County officials for the first time are allocating special tax dollars for economic development.
Incoming commission chairman Keith Greene hopes that some of the funds will be used to help the county buy and develop land to attract suppliers tied to the auto complex.
“The county needs to diversify its revenue streams,” Mr. Greene said. “Most of our general operating money comes from property taxes. We need to recruit more industry and get higher-paying jobs in here.”