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SPLOST projects aired, residents’ input examined
Data: Locals find transportation to be biggest need
Forsyth County

This week, Forsyth County Commissioners heard an update and provided feedback on potential projects to be funded through a potential continuation of a special 1-cent sales tax.

On Wednesday morning, Forsyth County commissioners and county staff discussed potential projects to be funded through SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) VIII, which will be decided by voters in November. 

The county previously held 10 meetings, two in each commission district, to hear what projects county residents would like to see. At those meetings, 182 surveys were completed and 92 residents left general comments. 

“I do need to highlight the fact that 182 is not statistically significant,” said Chief Information Officer Brandon Kenney. “However, what I will say is it is the input directly from our citizens, 182 people, that are certainly giving us an indication of what they would like to see and where they would like to see it.”

Based on the input of those who responded, transportation was found to be the biggest need, earning 33.3 percent of responses, followed by parks and recreation, 13.6 percent, sheriff’s office, 10.6 percent and fire department, 9.1 percent. 

For transportation, proposed projects included the widening of roads, bike and pedestrian projects, intersection improvements, paving unpaved roads and other projects.

Though projects will be whittled down, County Manager Eric Johnson said it would be expensive to complete all transportation projects that had been proposed.

“There is about $121 million in requests for transportation alone,” he said. 

Parks and recreation projects, which commissioners said would need to be adjusted, included new phases, master plans, renovations and improvements of existing parks, along with the purchase of green space and proposed new facilities, including a new aquatic facility and parks in southwest and east Forsyth. 

With new projects, Johnson recommended commissioners keep in mind how much it would cost to run them in the future. 

“As you go forward, what I’m really going to push departments to do, and we’re going to do that with every capital project going forward — is, ‘what is the ongoing operating impact?’” Johnson said. “Some of these could lower your operating costs and make it easier to adopt into a budget, some may be relatively neutral and some of them may require staff.”

The sheriff’s office had requests for vehicle replacement, body cameras and a new west precinct on Pittman Road.

The county’s fire department had a number of requests, including a new training center and its needs and new vehicles.

Requests from the county’s senior services, water and sewer, animal shelter, library, recycling and solid waste departments and new facilities rounded out the proposed projects.

SPLOST was first approved in Forsyth County in 1987 and has been continued six times since. 

In the past, the construction of the new jail, courthouse and parking decks in downtown Cumming, new fire stations and fire trucks, road widening and infrastructure improvements and purchasing land for county parts has been undertaken with SPLOST funding.