What's Next in the Columbus Mayor's Plan for the LOST?

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by Lindsey Connell
WTVM News Reporter
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July 16, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WXTX)-- With the majority of voters saying "yes" to the LOST, Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington says he is ready to hit the ground running to put his plan for the sales tax in action.

"I really feel good. The work has just begun though," he said.

The first thing on his "To Do" list is hiring 100 police officers and he is looking at ways to start the hiring process early, possibly before 2009 comes around.

"We could take some money out of the reserve fund and put it back in there when the money from the sales tax starts coming in. That's just one of the options we have," he added.

Another goal the mayor has set in the next few months is appointing a commission for a crime prevention program that will be modeled after similar effective programs in other cities.

Out of the 48 voting precincts in Muscogee County, the sales tax won in 41 precincts and lost in only 7.

Voting precinct one, Wynnton, had the highest percentage of "Yes" votes while voting precinct 42, St. Mary's United Methodist Church, had the highest percentage of "No" votes.

Overall, the LOST passed 61 percent to 39 and the mayor isn't the only one celebrating.

Officials in the Columbus Fire and EMS Department anticipate the improvements it will bring to their department, including 72 new positions.

"We're looking at two new stations, upgrading a couple of our stations that are no longer feasible for us to maintain. I think what the city can do now is actually breathe because we can go back and look at the things we need and set priorities to them," said Chief Jerry Fountain.

Fire Department officials say taxpayers should start seeing those new stations and equipment in early 2010.