AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Georgians will be paying millions for projects until the 2030s

Some kids who make their first catch in the pond behind the Go Fish Center in Houston County this year will be juniors and seniors in high school around the time Georgians stop paying off the education and tourism center that was Gov. Sonny Perdue's brainchild.

Children born this winter will be attending the new Lanier Technical College campus in Hall County being pushed by Gov. Nathan Deal before taxpayers have finished paying off the bonds on the facility, sometime in the 2030s.

Governors and legislatures typically approve about $700 million to $1 billion each year for construction projects, usually for new schools, port improvements, libraries, conservation land, economic development projects, and occasionally, things like Go Fish Georgia. What some Georgians might not think about is that those aren't one-time expenses, paid in 2015 for 2015-approved construction. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution pointed out Sunday, most of those projects are built with money raised from the sale of  20-year bonds.

The current Lanier Tech isn't a bright, shiny new campus. Its newest building is about 30 years old, and some of its facilities have seen better days. The president said there is no room to expand.  But some locals say it would be cheaper to renovate the campus, which is off a relatively new, expensive highway interchange built with public tax dollars, than spend $100 million or more to move the campus from one end of Hall County to the other. If the full cost of the project is funded with bonds, the final tab will be closer to $180 million, and won't be paid off until the late 2030s.

See the full AJC's report on myajc.com

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About the Author

James Salzer has covered state government and politics in Georgia since 1990.