MOULTRIE -- With expected sales tax revenues off the mark by some $1.5 million, projects may be taken to the chopping block.

Colquitt County Economic Development Authority member Brooks Sheldon said the authority will have to adjust its initial $5 million budget to build an industrial park to the "new reality."

"When our projections were made, there was just more economic activity in the area, and I think we'll be better served to be conservative and be surprised if it comes out better," Sheldon said.

He said the development authority can adjust to the estimated $312,500 it will have to do without by buying less land or seeking grants.

Moultrie stands to have $368,190 pared from its initial proposed project list that came to $5,891,040. Topping its priority list is a new $1.3 million police station. Other projects are city hall repairs and renovations, $3 million in road improvements and improvements to recreational facilities, which sit at the bottom of the list.

"It'll make a difference, but it's something we're going to have to live with," Moultrie Mayor Bill McIntosh said.

For smaller cities like Doerun, the overall amount lost might not be as great, but the sales tax offered them the chance to do projects that otherwise may not get done.

Doerun Mayor Wade Ethridge said the county made it "very plain" during sales tax planning that it wanted close estimates on proposed projects. There's no fat to trim, he said.

"We're going to have to go back and revamp the list. We turned in a priority list to the county, and we're going to have to go by those lists. Our first priority is a library. ... Something will just have to give," he said.

Ethridge is concerned that the slow down of revenues will not only result in an overall smaller collection but also will cost the recipient entities in the long run by not allowing them to start projects when they planned. That delay could cost them in higher building costs, he said.

Still local officials remain hopeful that the county economy will make a turnaround.

"We don't know what the collection's going to be over the next five years," McIntosh said. "We just have to be optimistic that we're going to continue to grow, and we'll make up for it in the long run."

"It's early in the game," Ethridge said. "We don't want to holler 'Wolf,' but we don't know whether to punt or pass right now."



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