Butts County commissioners on Monday discussed the idea of a new sales tax to fund road projects, and updating development ordinances for residential homes.
The Board of Commissioners also heard about plans to transform the former school campus on North Mulberry Street to include a Boys and Girls Clubs branch.
While the board’s regularly scheduled business meeting was canceled due to lack of a need for action on any items, commissioners went ahead with their customary workshop meeting.
Although a 10-county special purpose local option sales tax for transportation (T-SPLOST) failed in a referendum in 2012, counties can now impose up to 1% individually or in smaller groups of counties. The Board of Commissioners had asked Butts County’s multi-jurisdictional transportation advisory board for information on such a tax locally and for recommendations on projects.
The Transportation Board met last week to discuss the idea of a referendum ahead of Monday’s BOC meeting, and recommended asking voters for approval of a 1% tax to fund resurfacing projects around the county, limited intersection improvements and projects like pedestrian facilities in the city of Jackson.
Transportation Board members were told a 1% sales tax for transportation projects could bring in about $9.1 million over five years, far less than the typical county SPLOST because motor fuel sales would be exempt from T-SPLOST. Over half of Butts County’s traditional SPLOST revenue is collected on fuel sales.
The Board of Commissioners took no action Monday to call for a referendum, but according to County Attorney Benjamin A. Vaughn would have to publish a notice calling a meeting with leaders of cities that would share in the collection at least 130 days before the referendum.
Commissioners also received information Monday on the county’s regulations on the size of single-family homes and the lot sizes required in specific zoning categories. Commissioner Russ Crumbley urged his colleagues to consider adding design standards to the county’s zoning regulations aimed at boosting the quality of homes built here. He specifically advocated for side- or rear-entry garages.
Board members were told lot size and heated square footage requirements were revised down several years ago in some zoning categories. Crumbley said he would like lot size and square footage raised and standardized across zoning categories.
Chairman Ken Rivers warned that larger homes aren’t always attractive to older adults.
“We don’t want to make it so the elderly don’t want to come to Butts County because they don’t want a big house and a big yard,” he said.
Commissioner Keith Douglas urged colleagues to consider affordability and housing access. “I think we need to be careful when we do this. Everybody’s not fortunate to have a lot of money,” he said. “I don’t think we need to get to a point where we’re telling people how to build their house.”
Commissioners asked county staffers to research design requirements used in other communities to be discussed at the board’s next workshop meeting.
The Rev. Charlie Barlow, president of the Henderson School Alumni Association Trust, discussed his group’s project to purchase the former Henderson High and Elementary School campus to be converted into a community and workforce development center anchored by a Boys and Girls Clubs branch.
He asked the Board of Commissioners to support a request for historical designation that could make the property eligible for grants; asked the BOC to support the plan for a Boys and Girls Club; and asked the BOC to provide any in-kind contribution possible toward the renovation of the campus.
The school first opened in November 1955 as Henderson High and Elementary School, an all-black school for first- through 12th-grades. It later served as the home of Henderson Junior High School and North Mulberry Elementary School. The property was last used as the school system’s alternative school, North Mulberry Academy. It has been vacant since 2010.