County renews efforts to promote the Civil War sesquicentennial

County renews efforts to promote the Civil War sesquicentennial

June 28th, 2012 by Mike O'Neal in Catoosa

The Catoosa County Board of Commissioners during their June 19 meeting approved spending money to promote the area's Civil War heritage and continue several paving projects. Board members were also given a positive report concerning the county's finances.

Commissioners showed support of the local Chamber of Commerce's efforts to promote tourism by renewing the county's $1,000 contribution to the Tri-State Civil War 150th Commemoration Association.

"We've supported this for three years," Commission Chairman Keith Greene said.

The Chamber represents the county during meetings of the Tri-State Commemoration Association, an organization dedicated to using the area's unique history, particularly as it relates to the mid-1860s, for promoting heritage tourism.

"History is a good marketing tool," Commissioner Jim Cutler said. "This is a good investment."

Martha Eaker, president and CEO of the Chamber, said it is important to get people involved and financial benefits to the community can be large.

"BRAG [Bicycle Ride Across Georgia] participants are estimated to have spent about $100,000 in Fort Oglethorpe and they were only there for a day," she said.

Spending $$$ saves $$$

Local leaders approved spending nearly $630,000 to preserve state funding for what will be a repaving project valued at a total of $1.4 million.

County Attorney Chad Young informed the commissioners that $627,000 of patching and repairs must be done before progressing on paving projects throughout the county.

"GDOT [Georgia Department of Transportation] gave us the figures last week," Young said when describing the need to spend money to make money.

Regulations require that roads meet certain standards before state funds can be spent on repaving them, he said.

Money to patch and repair roads necessary to meet state requirements is available in the county's SPLOST account.

"If you don't do the repairs, the roads will break up within a few years of being resurfaced," said Commissioner Jeff Long, who also serves as public works director for the city of Fort Oglethorpe. "This is a heads up thing to do."

Sales tax revenue collections show steady gains

Overall revenue collected for the first eight months of fiscal year 2012 has been less than for the same period one year ago, but continues to exceed expenditures.

That was the message Carl Henson, the county's chief financial officer, conveyed in his financial report during the commission meeting.

While revenue was about $206,000, roughly 1.5 percent, below the amount budgeted for the period, expenditures were about $453,000, nearly 3.4 percent, less than budgeted.

Part of the shortfall was due to property tax collections, local option sales and other taxes as well as higher than anticipated costs to operate courts and the county jail.

No single item during the eight-month period stood out as contributing to reduced expenditures - nearly every department's spending was below budget.

While the county's spending less than it collected was heartening, even better was Henson saying the collection of optional sales taxes is showing a steady increase of about 8.4 percent over collections during the prior year.