February 16, 2017 | Spotlight

Macon-Bibb leaders establish sales tax blueprint at Institute retreat

The Institute facilitated a retreat where Macon-Bibb County government officials set priorities for upcoming sales tax projects.

Writer: Roger Nielsen

Macon-Bibb County government leaders set priorities for more than $100 million in sales tax projects at a planning retreat that Institute of Government faculty facilitated recently.

The retreat allowed Mayor Robert Reichert, senior government staff and Macon-Bibb County commissioners to establish a tactical plan for accomplishing the construction program envisioned in a sales tax that voters passed in November.

“This is going to be a foundation for the next four years. For a variety of reasons, I think we need to be measured in what we do,” Reichert said.

The retreat, held Jan. 30-31 at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, continues the Institute’s long and intimate collaboration with government leaders in Macon and Bibb County. Beginning in 2011, Institute faculty supported the intricate task of consolidating the city and county governments and provided technical assistance for long-term operational planning.

The consolidated government debuted Jan. 1, 2014. Institute faculty immediately began working with Reichert and other officials to develop a strategic plan that’s still informing economic and community development initiatives, neighborhood and quality of life improvements and infrastructure upgrades.

Faculty members Gordon Maner and Mara Shaw worked with Macon-Bibb County leaders on the initial strategic plan and comprised the team that facilitated the most recent retreat. The Institute’s expertise has been an important factor in helping the consolidated government find solid footing, according to Reichert.

“The Carl Vinson Institute of Government has helped us tremendously in the form of the strategic plan and by providing an impartial third party to guide the flow of information during retreats like this,” Reichert said.

During the retreat, SPLOST Project Manager Clay Murphey gave an update on current projects. Also at the retreat, county commissioners expressed their willingness to approve $35 million in bonds to finance infrastructure and construction included in the newly approved sales tax (which will be collected starting in 2018). Along with the bonds, the county government expects to receive about $80 million in new sales tax revenue from 2018 through 2020.