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Committee keeps close tabs on SPLOST VII funding
Letting public know what money buys a high priority
The expansion of the Senior Life Center is one of the many projects being funded by the special purpose local option sales tax.

Members of the SPLOST VII Citizen Review Committee take their job seriously.

On Tuesday they heard the latest report on how much money is being collected and spent from a one-cent-per-dollar increase approved by voters in 2015 to pay for more than 30 capital projects with a budget of $158 million.

“We are very engaged,” said committee chairman Frank Norton, a principal at Norton Agency Insurance, LLC, following the meeting at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office — a facility completed last year from SPLOST VI funds approved by voters in 2008.

Norton and other committee members peppered county officials with questions, comments and suggestions.

One of the suggestions was the county should do a better job promoting that certain projects have been made possible because of SPLOST.

“We need to remind people that SPLOST money is working,” Norton said. “Getting the word out is going to help us when we try to do SPLOST VIII.”

County Administrator Randy Knighton who sat in on the meeting said the county is working on getting a decal placed on vehicles such as ambulances and firetrucks that have been purchased with sales tax revenue.

“That will be happening as we purchase more vehicles,” Knighton said.

Michelle Mintz is active as a minister at St. John Baptist Church and in other community work, but she takes time out from a busy schedule to be on the committee.

“We have to take this seriously,” Mintz said. “This is our money.”

Committee members received an update on the $1.5 million renovations at the Senior Life Center scheduled to begin in May from center director Phillippa Lewis Moss.

The center will double its footprint to 12,500 square feet with the addition of two conference rooms, a wellness room, pottery studio, library, a teaching kitchen and a storefront, according to Moss.

Tim Sims, the county’s SPLOST and purchasing manager, told committee members that $50 million have been collected from SPLOST VII so far — about 3.4 percent over projections. He said $37.9 million have been spent on projects as of April 14.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch took more than half a dozen committee members on a tour of the new facility.

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