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How Tuesday's Gainesville City Council vote could affect future of Lake Lanier Olympic Park
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The Olympic Park Boathouse on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, pictured Feb. 24, 2018. - photo by David Barnes

On Tuesday, the Gainesville City Council will vote on an increase to the city’s hotel-motel tax that would fund capital improvements at Lake Lanier Olympic Park, which the city hopes to take over. Councilmembers will also look at the status of other capital projects for an annual plan submitted to the state.

Hotel-motel tax increase to fund Olympic Park improvements

To fund improvements at Lake Lanier Olympic Park, which the city is hoping to acquire, the Council will vote Tuesday on a 2 percent increase for the city’s hotel-motel tax.

The city jointly operates the park with Hall County but wants to completely take over operations, with the county stepping back from its role.

If council members approve the change, Hall’s legislative delegation will introduce it for approval in the Georgia General Assembly. Then, if the bill is approved at the state level, the Council will vote again to implement the new tax.

Officials want to increase the hotel-motel tax from 6 to 8 percent. The city has made between $800,000 and $900,000 annually from the tax for the past few years.

Plans for improvements at the park include new restrooms, a pavilion and repairs to the boathouse, which flooded earlier this year due to heavy rains.

The nonprofit Gainesville-Hall ’96 has developed a master plan for the venue and overseen recent park updates.

The park on Clarks Bridge Road will also have to be annexed from the county into the city, which will require the legislature’s approval.

State Reps. Matt Dubnik, Emory Dunahoo and Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, all told The Times earlier in March that they supported the idea.

Parks Director Melvin Cooper said at Thursday’s Council work session that the parks department had funding for the park in the upcoming fiscal year but would need to adjust the budget after the first year.

The parks department’s  budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2020, starting in July, includes about $353,000 for the park. The city has been splitting the cost with the county, with each paying about $150,000 each year.

Gainesville City Council

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway

Annual update to capital improvements plan

The city is required to hold a public hearing before submitting its annual update of the Capital Improvements Element Plan, which outlines plans for spending impact fee dollars, to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Impact fees are one-time fees charged to developers for new construction projects that are then used to fund improvements for services including police, the fire department and parks.

The city took in almost $900,000 in impact fees last year, according to Special Projects Manager Jessica Tullar.

The plan lists capital projects, their estimated costs and their status. For example, the relocation of Fire Station No. 2 is in the design stages, and the Park Hill Drive area has been chosen as the new location. That will cost about $4.6 million. Meanwhile, improvements at Desota Park have been finished since the last annual update to the plan. Those cost about $225,000.

The full plan is part of the agenda documents for Thursday’s work session and Tuesday’s meeting. Agendas are available on the city website.

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