DULUTH — Even though it’s still early in 2013, the Duluth City Council began discussing possible SPLOST projects for the 2014 budget during a work session Monday.
The money projected to be received is just more than $25 million with 90 percent placed into the budget for proposed projects.
“That’s so we don’t go over budget on the monies we actually do receive,” City Manager Tim Shearer said.
Among the projects discussed was a restoration of Rogers Bridge. The one hiccup in the project is it is a joint project between the cities of Duluth and Johns Creek, and the counties of Gwinnett and Fulton.
“I honestly don’t know if it’s going to happen,” Mayor Nancy Harris said. “We’ve had trouble with this in the past.”
Harris does agree that the project is something the residents are interested in seeing happen and suggested that it remain among the list of projects just in case the other entities are ready to go on it.
“We want to get this done, so I think we should keep it on there just in case they’re ready to do it,” she said. “We don’t want them to be ready and us not be because we didn’t put the money aside in the budget.”
Among the other proposed projects discussed was $50,000 for voting equipment so the city doesn’t have to depend on the county for the equipment, city sidewalk connectivity for 50 to 100-foot sections missing throughout the city and finishing phase 2 of the Western Gwinnett Bikeway.
The council also discussed the revisions to the Duluth Public Art Commission guidelines, in which board members cannot receive money from the commission, in order to prevent conflicts of interest.
“It opens up a can of worms when you have a commission giving money to one of its members to complete a project,” councilman Billy Jones said. “It creates a huge conflict of interest.”
Maintenance of the West Lawrenceville Street/McClure Bridge area, which is done by the county was also a topic of discussion.
With the Gateway Art Project slated to go in the roundabout, the county had reservations about the potential liability issues.
During the Service Delivery Strategy settlement, the city handed over maintenance of the area to the county, which caused a lot of questioning from councilmembers.
“Something is fishy about that,” council member Kelly Kelkenberg said. “We complete the construction on it and then immediately hand it over to the county?”
By asking for a transfer of the area back into the city, Duluth will not only be responsible for maintenance, but also won’t have to go through the county for the Gateway Art Project.
During a special-called meeting prior to the work session, the council voted and approved on:
• Authorization for a land purchase in the Town Park area using 2009 SPLOST money. It’s a 3.46-acre property on the corner of Hill Street and Ridgeway Road.
• Authorization for the mayor or city manager to sign an intergovernmental agreement for the vehicle title ad valorem tax set to kick in on Friday.