COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – It’s one of the biggest community funded projects to take place in the Shoals in recent history. By the end of November, taxpayers in Colbert and Lauderdale county’s will have paid off the debt surrounding it.
The Retirement Systems of Alabama was willing to bet on the project, they just needed the Shoals to have a vested interest.
“We knew it was going to have an impact,” stated Rex Burleson with the Public Park Authority of the Shoals. “We didn’t know how large of an impact.”
The Public Park Authority of the Shoals was created at the front end of the RSA proposal. They have overseen the project including going to the bond market for $18 million. The money would be paid back through a two cent gas tax voted on by the people. To date - it’s worked.
“People are coming in here from all over the United States and even other continents,” Burleson explained. “It’s really fun and enjoyable to meet these people.”
Burleson has served on the park authority since it’s inception. One of their proudest moments has come, the $18-million bond will be paid off on November 30, 14 years ahead of schedule - which means their part of a two cent gas tax will be coming off the pumps.
“It’s something that will be here for a long time. And the jobs, and the manufacturing it has brought in,” said Burleson.
Three major manufacturing facilities were direct spin-offs from the work first done in 2000. It proved governments from different sides of the river could work together to make things happen.
Once all of the accounts are finalized by the Public Park Authority, any left over money will be divided between Colbert and Lauderdale counties and will be used for paving.