Athens Commission Approves List of Projects TSPLOST, Firearms Identification System | City News
In a regular voting session on Tuesday evening, the Mayor and the Athens-Clarke Commission voted to finalize the list of proposed TSPLOST projects for 2023. The commission also discussed the salary increase for commissioners and approved Athens-Clarke County Police Department’s request to acquire a firearms identification system.
Finalized TSPLOST list
The committee unanimously approved a list of 32 projects, cut from the 90 proposed projects considered by the committee during a Jan. 18 agenda-setting session.
The list of planned projects includes investments in public transport, extensions of greenways and increased safety infrastructure for pedestrians, such as improved sidewalks and more streetlights in eastern Athens.
District 8 Commissioner Carol Myers, who worked on revising the list into its current form, highlighted some of the proposed projects.
“There’s $23 million for underserved neighborhoods and low-income residents of Stonehenge, Westchester Drive, the West Broad neighborhood, Sycamore Drive, North Athens and East Athens,” Myers said.
One addition to the list since January 18 is the Five Point Intersection Safety Improvement Project. This $1.5 million project includes repurposing crosswalks with ADA availability, renovating pedestrian shelters, pedestrian and street lighting, and other improvements to increase safety.
Many parents have expressed concern about the layout of the intersection. At the previous meeting, District 7 Commissioner Russell Edwards expressed interest in adding a Five Points project.
“It’s kind of the second round of SPLOST that these citizens have asked for this project,” Edwards said. “It’s very close to probably the most walkable school in the county, Barrow Elementary. So you see a lot of kids going through that intersection twice a day.
Voters in Athens will decide whether the collection of the 1% sales tax will continue for another five years on May 24.
Firearms identification system
The commission also unanimously approved the ACCPD’s request for the purchase of an integrated ballistic identification system for forensic purposes in firearms incidents. It costs around $207,000.
The IBIS analyzes the unique markings of a cartridge and a projectile to match different pieces of evidence. This allows police to determine if shell casings collected at a shooting scene were fired from a specific firearm. It also allows identification in incidents where the same firearm was used at a different location.
According to the ACCPD, the department relies on the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to analyze firearms-related materials. Due to the needs of other agencies, this process can take six weeks to six months.
By purchasing IBIS, ACCPD would be able to shorten the response time for analysis.
The ACCPD reported a 29% increase in annual firearm-related incidents from 2018 to 2020, according to a committee agenda item detailing the ACCPD’s request.
At the start of the meeting, District 6 Commissioner Jesse Houle passed a resolution informing the public that the commission will consider an increase in the commissioner’s salary at its March 1 session. The committee approved motion 8-2.
Much of the conversation focused on the time commitment required to serve as a commissioner and how labeling the job as a service position can limit the number of people who can apply.
“I’m going to have to say it’s a job. It is an extremely important job as a commissioner, a job that I take on and that I hope all my colleagues take very seriously and that requires a lot of time and work for at least years, “said the District 5 Commissioner Tim Denson. .
According to Houle, commissioners’ salaries have not been adjusted since 2001.
Commissioners Allison Wright and Mike Hamby voted against the motion.
Wright explained that his vote against was because the commission had not raised salaries for government employees the previous year, referring to a failed vote to increase staff salaries by 12.5%.