The City Hall meeting was set up to prepare voters to make a decision to approve a 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax. The vote for the tax, which would start in 2016, would be Nov. 4 if the Board of Commissioners puts it on the ballot.
The city list totals $57 million and is made up of the projects the City Council wants to see funded by the SPLOST.
City employees waited two hours for residents to come to the meeting Wednesday. When no residents came, staff said the lack of attendees may have been because no one had heard about the meeting or they may have gone to Commissioner Helen Goreham’s SPLOST informational meeting, which took place later Wednesday night.
Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin said he had seen a trend of low attendance at meetings for SPLOSTs in previous years.
“That’s about what I expected,” Tumlin said.
Dan Conn, the city’s public works director, hopes the lack of people at the meeting doesn’t correlate with a lack of supporters for the tax, because he said the city needs the money.
“It takes $2 million each year to keep the roads in the condition they’re in now,” Conn said.
Conn said the city has spent 60 percent of the money it raised so far from the 2011 SPLOST.
The 2011 SPLOST, which spans from January 2012 to the end of 2015, is expected to collect $44.8 million for the city.
Conn said one project that will be appealing to the public is a new $1.2 million trail on Burnt Hickory Road, would connect Whitlock Avenue to the park on Old Mountain Road.
Johnny Walker was the only councilman to visit the meeting. He said he supports the trail project because it will connect to residents in his district.
Walker said he hopes residents see how important the tax is and will vote in favor of it so the city can continued to be maintained.
“If they don’t vote for it, I don’t know what we’ll do,” Walker said.
New fire trucks
The SPLOST list includes $4.5 million for replacement trucks and heart monitors for the fire department. Fire Chief Jackie Gibbs said his department needs the funding because if the department doesn’t get new trucks soon, he’s worried the old ones won’t survive.
“I know that’s important to (the fire department), and I think that it’s also important to the city,” Walker said.
Gibbs said he has a fleet of fire trucks too old and not up to date with new safety measures.
“We are obviously very concerned, because the longer we wait to replace them, the harder it is to keep the fleet moving,” Gibbs said.
The three trucks Gibbs said he wants to replace are more than 12 years old. One of those has 158,000 miles on it and its engine has run for 12,600 hours in its lifetime.
“That’s a hair-raising scenario in this traffic,” Gibbs said.
Each new fire truck costs $500,000, Gibbs said. It has been two years since the department bought a new truck, and his fleet contains six engines total.
“(The fire trucks) are worn out,” Gibbs said.
The heart monitors, which tell medical responders whether a person needs an electric shock when his or her heart has stopped, are 10 years old and cost $30,000 each to replace.
Much of the budget for the 2016 SPLOST would go toward road maintenance projects.
One of those is a $3 million streetscape on Powder Springs Street that would run from the South Marietta Parkway intersection all the way to Chestnut Hill Road. The section of roadway would get a 14-foot-wide median, as well as sidewalks and pedestrian crossings.
Walker said he decided to cut one item from the list of SPLOST projects in his ward.
Walker said residents in his district complained about a suggested roundabout at the intersection of Mountain View Road and Polk Street, so he took it off the list.
The residents didn’t want to ease traffic with a roundabout, because they feared it would make more people want to use Marietta as a cut-through to Atlanta.
“They just don’t want anything that’s going to help get traffic through Marietta,” Walker said.
The roundabout was going to cost $750,000 to construct, Walker said.
One of the biggest projects the city will fund with the SPLOST is a replacement bridge on Old 41 Highway over the Church Street Extension railroad. The current bridge was constructed in 1972.
“(Old 41 Highway) is currently restricted. This will rebuild the bridge,” Conn said.
The new bridge will cost $8 million, and the city and the county will split the cost to pay $4 million each.