Local government officials, business leaders and community members gathered at CenturyLink’s 50/50 building Thursday for a State of the County address by Board of Commissioners Chairman Donald Lovette and County Administrator Joey Brown. The address was part of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce’s Progress Through People Luncheon series.
Lovette expressed satisfaction with the progress he has seen throughout the year and praised city officials for their cohesiveness and amicability in working together for the good of the county.
“My challenge to us all as civic leaders, as business leaders and as proud citizens who call Liberty County home is that we take pride and celebrate what we have accomplished,” Lovette said.
Brown’s address focused on budget highlights, various county projects and the upcoming November special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) referendum.
“The state of the county is good,” Brown said. “We’ve weathered some economic conditions — we’ve been in some lean times.
“Thank you to the constitutional officers who have worked with the county commission very diligently to still make sure that they can do their job that they’re bound to do by the state constitution, but yet work within the economic parameters that we’ve all been faced with,” he continued.
Budget points Brown emphasized were the decrease in local option sales tax revenues, penalties and interest collections and charges for services. He also pointed out the breakdown of fiscal-year 2015 general-fund services, which amount to 67 percent of state-mandated services, 31 percent of essential services and 2 percent of discretionary spending.
Brown also highlighted several county accomplishments, including the completion of Liberty County Community Complex renovations, the opening of the swimming pool at that facility and various road improvements — all of which were funded by SPLOST dollars.
“Without that tax, none of these would have gotten done,” he said.
The assembly also was updated on the new rural water system in the Lewis Frasier/Holmestown Road area, which is approximately 60 percent complete, according to Brown. He also said that the system is due to come online in February or March 2015.
Brown said that fire protection continues to be a chief concern and that efforts for a unified fire-response system are under way.
A new county website almost is complete and should be live in 30-45 days, according to the county administrator.
Brown’s final talking point was the upcoming SPLOST referendum. The current SPLOST period will end in March 2015, and the new period — if voters pass it in November — will take effect in April 2015. The estimated revenue from the next SPLOST period is between $50-54 million, which would be collected over a six-year period.
More information on the SPLOST referendum will be published in upcoming editions of the Courier.