County officials might have their own wish list when it comes to the next round of projects funded by penny sales tax money.
But this week, it will be the public's chance to get their two cents in.
The county will hold a series of meetings to gather residents' input about what projects and improvements they would like to see funded by an extension of the county's one-cent sales tax.
Officials intend to present the extension for voters during a referendum next year.
County Administrator Steve Szablewski said the first step toward the referendum was the countywide public meetings.
"The purpose is to involve citizens early in the process, to get projects identified that are important to them," he said. "These meetings will not be run by county staff or even elected officials."
Instead, a consultant will run the four scheduled meetings and record suggestions made at the hearings. Those ideas will be passed along to the Columbia County Board of Commissioners, which will review potential projects by the end of the year.
There will be another series of meetings in January and February to again seek public input as projects are prioritized. A ballot with the selected infrastructure improvements and new facilities will ask to continue the county's local one-cent sales tax until 2010.
The current local penny tax, which voters approved in 2000, was intended to fund up to $58 million worth of projects.
Although existing collections are not slated to end until 2005, county officials decided to start the planning process early.
Szablewski said, "Ultimately, an election will be called for in July of next year for voters of the county to approve this project (list) if they think it's worthy."
Here is this week's schedule of public hearing for residents to speak out on what projects they would like to see funded if county's one-cent sales tax is extended:
* Monday, 7 p.m., Savannah Rapids Pavilion, 3300 Evans-to-Locks Road, Martinez
* Tuesday, 7 p.m., Evans Government Auditorium, 630 Ronald Regan Drive, Evans
* Wednesday, 7 p.m., Eubanks Blanchard Community Center, 6868 Cobb Ham Road, Appling
* Thursday, 7 p.m., Bessie Thomas Community Center, 5915 Euchee Creek Drive, Grovetown
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