On the radio: Carey Harris, who is speaking on the ag center proposal, joins us at 7:40 this morning on Hometown Headlines Radio Edition on WRGA 98.7 FM and online at wrga.streamon.fm.
One of the citizen proposals for a new special purpose tax includes highlighting perhaps the region’s oldest industry: agriculture. As presented by Carey K. Harris and a group of area farmers last week, a Floyd County Farmers Market would serve as a cash-flowing “hub” for a number of community interests.
In his presentation, Harris told the tax study commission drafted the 2017 ballot issue agriculture is nearly a $90 million industry (value of what is produced here) with poultry no. 1 at $49 million and cattle no. 2 at $12 million. With a price of more than $9 million, the market would include: A covered farmers market, arena, a Georgia Grown store, dog park, a coffee shop, a bar, space for food trucks and offices.
The farmers market would be a “better-suited area for local producers to sell their produce.” The coffee shop, ice cream parlor and bar also would help draw visitors – and revenue, according to the report.
The dog park — funded by a previous special tax — finally would have a centralized home.
The design would incorporate space for food trucks with RV-style hook-ups and covered areas.
Uses for the project: It would be the base of agricultural education including gardening and landscaping clinics, animal health and welfare clinics, farm workshops (sustainable farming, credit seminars), a home for livestock shows, 4H events, key meetings (Farm Bureau, Cattlemens Association, town and country dinner.
Offices: It would include space for offices such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, Farm Credit, Farm Bureau and Extension Office.
Management/staffing: Early recommendations include the student enterprises team at Berry College, Shorter and Georgia Northwestern students couple with a manager and an oversight board.
The cost: At 63,000 square feet, the main building could cost $8 million followed by $175,000 for covered areas (16,100 square feet), an eight- to 10-acre campus, design work, paving and fencing. Grand total: $9,050,000. Annual operations: Utilities at $125,000 a year and maintenance at $250,000.
Annual cash-flow estimate: $375,000 from office rentals, Georgia Grown store, rental of the arena and other spots including farmers market and food truck spaces.
What’s next: The tax study commission will review all the project proposals and then form a final package to go before voters on Nov. 7. It is an all-or-nothing vote that would raise $60 million over five years.
The 2017 Floyd County SPLOST Committee hear presentations at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 20, at the Rome Floyd County Fire Department Headquarters located at 409 East 12th Street, Rome. Presentation schedule: