HIAWASSEE, Ga – Now that the new SPLOST tax passed, Towns County’s courthouse renovation can officially begin. Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw took a moment to speak about the new project at the June county meeting.
“I want to thank the Towns County Citizens for passing the SPLOST and Freeport Tax,” said Bradshaw.
Taxes didn’t increase with the passage of SPLOST; everything remains at seven percent.
“Now we can bring our courthouse up to date, not only in looks but the function of the courthouse,” Bradshaw added.
The bulk of the money will be spent on the interior of the current courthouse. They will gut the building to bring it up to code and add an offset to the back. The entire process should take around 18 months.
“The addition on the back will be courtrooms, holding cells, a judge’s office. It will be three courtrooms – two at 120 capacity and one at 60. The one at 60 will be the probate judge,” Bradshaw explained to the room.
Bradshaw and the architects went through several rounds of drawings before deciding on the final layout. Once the architects found drawings of the original courthouse, they incorporated its style into the add-on. The concept will break up the square box look and incorporate darker brick against the light brick.
“They will gut everything out of this building – the wiring, the plumbing, the heating and air, the windows. Everything will be new, more energy-efficient, and I can get Margie and Brooke out of the closet in our office.”
The new building will also create a commissioner’s conference room.
The current plan is to build the new addition first and let everyone move that building. The commissioner’s office might move into the civic center. The exact details are still to be determined. After the completion of the addition, construction crews should take another nine months to finish renovating the existing courthouse.
The process will take longer than normal, but the county is saving money because it won’t have to rent trailers, sewer, internet, etc.
Around $500,000 of SPLOST funds will go to the road department and $140,000 for the recreation department.
The Freeport Tax will put Towns County on an equal footing with surrounding counties as far as job creation is concerned.
“It will help our businesses in the future for the employees to have job creation because it will save them money on their taxes on their raw materials. It does open the door for a business to start here because we’re equal to every other county and if we put on a better sales pitch, we’ll get ‘em,” Bradshaw explained.
Around 93 percent of Georgia counties have adopted a Level One Freeport Exemption, which can be set at 20, 40, 60, 80, or 100 percent of the inventory value. According to the state of Georgia, t can apply to the following types of property:
- Inventory of goods in the process of being manufactured or produced including raw materials and partly finished goods;
- Inventory of finished goods manufactured or produced within this State held by the manufacturer or producer for a period not to exceed 12 months;
- Inventory of finished goods on January 1 that are stored in a warehouse, dock, or wharf which are destined for shipment outside this State for a period not to exceed 12 months;
- Stock in trade of a fulfillment center which on January 1 are stored in the fulfillment center.