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Auburn races to spend $764,779

Revenue must be spent by year's end

AUBURN - The city of Auburn is spending money as fast as it can.

Auburn could lose $764,779 from the Barrow County one-cent sales tax if it's not spent by Dec. 31, said Beth Horacek, Barrow County's finance director. The money has accumulated since 2001, she said.

Auburn has $405,435 earmarked for recreation improvements and $359,344 for roads. If it's not spent by Dec. 31, that money could roll over to Barrow County and would be paid on county debt, Horacek said.

Barrow County currently owes about $62 million, most of which was borrowed to construct of the new courthouse and jail, Keith Lee, Barrow County's chief administrator, said.

Auburn holds $163,000 total in Gwinnett County one-cent sales tax money that it has collected since 2005, said Trey Wood, Auburn city accountant. Auburn is in no danger of losing the Gwinnett County money.

With half the year gone, Auburn city workers labor on numerous projects. Upgrades to James Shackelford Memorial Park should total $325,000.

Another $15,000-$25,000 will pay for upgrades to the ball field on Mary Carter Road.

"Next we will buy the trailer park behind city hall and make a little park area with picnic benches," Mayor Harold Money said. "It's almost an acre and it will cost about $200,000 for the land and development."

City officials should close on the land sometime in June, Money said.

Repaving Parks Mill Road should eat up $47,000 with grading and construction using up another $49,000, Money said. Crews will soon resurface Fifth Street as the city prepares for the new library's opening.

"Parks Mill Road is in bad shape," said Sue Bartlett Whitehead. "It is just bumpity, bumpity. They haven't done anything to it in the 12 years I have lived here. Hopefully the council can get their ducks' in a row and get something done."

Why did Auburn wait until now to spend its money?

"They wouldn't ever agree on a program, we couldn't get anything accomplished," Money said. "The council members now are more aggressive and they're getting things done. People will see we are doing things we should have been doing. We will accomplish a lot. I'm going to leave them with $1.98."