As the ABH reported last week, the Mayor and Commission is working on prioritizing SPLOST 2011 projects. This is an issue that will have long-term consequences – consequences that Athens will not wake up to until the project is approved and underway. The Downtown Parking Deck and Tennis Courts from SPLOST 2005 come to mind in this exercise in last-minute activism.
Peruse the list of projects for SPLOST 2011. With the exception of the Jail and the Classic Center (which are paid for with debt), the projects get funded as the money rolls in over the next few years. The Commission gets to decide now (Work Session is tomorrow) whether to buy amenities (Parks! Gardens! Art!) or to buy functional things (Costa Building renovation, radios for police, repair of Morton Theatre) right now and what to save for later.
Each Commissioner has their own pet projects, and Alan Reddish (the ACC Manager) has his. I personally think it makes financial sense to spend money maintaining what we have before we go and buy new projects. Of course, there is a delicate balance – a lot of voters want to see some amenities, especially when we are spending $93 million for one invisible project (the jail) and for a not-so-popular-at the moment project (the Classic Center). And there’s always the moral pleas for certain projects (the recycling center, educational programs).
Now, the Commission will vote on the order on April 4, but if I’ve learned anything it’s that this group loves to come to informal consensus well before the meeting, so be sure to write your Commissioner now before the Work Session to have any kind of say. Or else 8 years from now you might be wondering ‘now when did we approve this Greenspace Acquisition Program?’