During the chairman’s report, Commission Chairman Allen Poole informed county citizens present at the meeting that he should have an answer within five to seven days on whether or not the county will be able to obtain the West Georgia Boot Camp, which was closed by the state on Sept. 1.
“We’re working diligently to try to move forward with obtaining the boot camp,” Poole said. “As everybody may know, on Sept. 1 the boot camp was closed by the state. I’ve been in contact with the state in regards to trying to obtain the facility. Just last week I was told by the deputy commissioner of corrections that [the state] is still working on it. Hopefully, the Lord’s will and your prayers will help us obtain [the boot camp] at no charge to the county,” Poole said.
If obtained by the county, the boot camp would be used to replace the aging county jail. In the past, the board of commissioners has explored funding a new jail through a SPLOST vote, and considered using a private contractor to build the jail. However, recent efforts have focused on the West Georgia Boot Camp, which could be obtained at little to no cost to the county.
During the Chairman’s report, Poole also announced progress on obtaining a reservoir to meet the county’s growing water needs.
“Wednesday at 4 o’clock, for the first time in 28 years the county will have property to look at building a reservoir for this county,” Poole said. “All the praise and accolades go to the hard work done by the Haralson County Water Authority, the board of commissioners and the mayors from our cities.”
The county has been working with the water authority and mayors to obtain land suitable for a future reservoir site. Obtaining land is the first step in the reservoir project. Afterwards, county officials will focus on obtaining funding for the project, which could require hundreds of millions of dollars.
“It may have taken 28 or 30 years, but for the first time we have a plan for the reservoir,” Poole said.
Despite progress on the jail and reservoir projects, Commissioner Vance Posey announced that the Georgia Department of Transportation has cut back future funds for the pavement of roads throughout the county.
According to Posey, the DOT will provide $750,000 to be divided among 13 counties, leaving Haralson with slightly less than $60,000 for road paving and improvements.
“The state is going through some tremendous cuts,” Poole said. “The local governments are feeling the impact. We’re going to work to provide the services that Haralson County has grown accustomed to receiving, but understand that we’re one of 159 counties, and this is not only happening to Haralson County but to everyone across the state.”
Posey added that if the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum is passed by voters during the general election in November, the county will have access to $3.5 million over six years for road and bridge work.
“That’s our salvation,” Posey said.
The County will distribute the SPLOST revenues based on population data from the last census, with 17.719 percent ($5,315,700) of the SPLOST to Bremen, 3.6629 percent ($1,098,870) to Buchanan, 10.8564 percent ($3,256,920) to Tallapoosa and 1.8256 percent ($547,680) to Waco.
The approximately $19 million remaining will be utilized for county projects, with $500,000 allocated for a senior center project, $1.8 million for a recreation project, $2.55 million for a public safety project $4.15 million for a government improvement project, $7.4 million for a water project and $3,380,830 allocated for additions and improvements to county roads, streets and bridges.
During the public participation section of the meeting, C.W. Greenwood stressed the importance of a successful SPLOST referendum and encouraged the board of commissioners to work to educate the public on why they should support the SPLOST.
According to Poole, the commissioners cannot use their position or office to promote the SPLOST to voters, instead the board is working to establish a citizens committee that will advocate the SPLOST to the public.
Commissioner Bob Birky also clarified a misconception regarding the SPLOST. He stated that the new SPLOST would continue the current 1 cent sales tax, it would not add an additional 1 cent sales tax.
The board also approved a proclamation declaring the week of Sept. 8 through Sept. 12 to be literacy week and encouraged students and citizens to support organizations that work to teach and promote literacy.