The city will receive $6 million in SPLOST money from the latest extension of the tax, which will take effect in 2013. The city has customarily waited until tax revenues came in to spend the money for projects. West Point leaders, however, have spent the last two years on a massive redevelopment plan for the 10th Street corridor and bonding SPLOST money will help it get started. Bonding allows the city to borrow in advance what it expects to see from the tax revenue. The Troup County school system frequently bonds its SPLOST money to do construction projects early.
City Manager Ed Moon said the first $2 million of the bonded money will go to renovating the West Point gym and ball fields on U.S. 29.
The remaining $2.5 million will be spent on other parts of the redevelopment plan, with input from local residents.
“We’re going to have more community meetings,” Moon said.
The redevelopment plan was adopted in May 2011 after a series of community meetings and public input. Market and Main, an Atlanta-based planning group, worked the city and came up with four major priorities:
Use a public investment to “set the stage,” expand current recreation facilities along West Point Road, utilizing the river and building a small hotel and conference center;
Create more and better affordable housing, turning the current West Point Housing Authority into a mixed-income development;
Attract private investment, particularly in a proposed office district between 10th and 9th streets; and
Get a new high school in West Point.
Improving recreation facilities was decided to be the way to set the stage for the rest of the development plan to follow. In January, the West Point food closet moved out of the gym and into First Baptist Church of West Point so that renovations could begin. Moon said the city’s inmate crew has cleaned up the building, but no renovations have begun and no bids have gone out for work.
Also Thursday, West Point City Council discussed how to find a new public defender. The city has been without one since attorney Benjamin Wilcox was elected to city council and stepped down from the job.
It pays $50 per case and Wilcox said he handled about seven cases in his two years as public defender.
City council has traditionally appointed a public defender, but some had suggested the job of finding and “hiring” the position be left to Moon.
“It’s a lot like (being city staff) and the city manager is in charge of the city staff,” Mayor Drew Ferguson IV said.
Council is fine with Moon making the decision, but wanted to make sure the job was advertised so that any local attorney who was interested will have a chance.