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Sinyard, Dukes clash in meeting

Voters will decide July 31 whether to fund a one-percent sales tax for regional transportation projects over the next 10 years.

Dougherty County Commssioner John Hayes speaks with SWGA Regional Commission Executive Director Dan Bolinger Friday, April 20.

Dougherty County Commssioner John Hayes speaks with SWGA Regional Commission Executive Director Dan Bolinger Friday, April 20.

— Officials from throughout Southwest Georgia sat in on an informational meeting Friday to learn more about a proposed one-percent transportation sales tax initiative voters will consider this summer.

The meeting was facilitated by the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission and its executive director, Dan Bolinger and featured a lively exchange between Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard and State Rep. Winfred Dukes.

Voters will decide whether to fund the one-percent sales tax during a referendum on July 31. The measure is expected to generate $530 million over the next decade, 75 percent of which has been dedicated to a pre-approved list of regional transportation projects like the widening of Highway 133 from Albany through Colquitt County.

The July vote will be the culmination of a two-year reformation of the state’s transportation system.

With road projects previously funded by the gasoline tax, legislators opted to shift the way the majority of state transportation projects are developed and financed in a way that would give the various regions of Georgia more say in the process.

Under the T-SPLOST law, the state has been divided into 12 regions. In Southwest Georgia, 14 counties make up our region, with Dougherty serving as the anchor.

If a majority of the votes cast on July 31 — 50 percent plus one — are in support of the T-SPLOST, a one-percent sales tax will be added to most purchases for the next 10 years.

No more than 75 percent of that funding, which is expected to generate $530 million, will go to a list of pre-approved, major regional projects. The remaining 25 percent is considered discretionary and will be used on local projects decided by each city and county government.

By law, elected and government officials are prohibited from lobbying for or against the measure directly, leaving the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and regional chamber of commerce organizations as the mechanism used to market and educate the initiative to the public.

Former City Commissioner Henry Mathis urged people to support the sales tax, saying that while it will be painful to pay another sales tax, the future of our region is at stake.

“None of us like tax increases during these hard times,” Mathis said. “But we can ill afford to miss an opportunity to make the sort of infrastructure improvements. We couldn’t afford to do it without the support of the entire region.”

Local businessman Orlando Rambo, who is part owner of the current Transit facility on Oglethorpe Boulevard, urged people not to view the move as a new tax.

“I don’t view this as a tax. I view it as an investment,” Rambo said. “But for this pass, we’ve got to do a good job educating the public and getting the message out.”

But not everyone who attended Friday’s meeting was overly supportive of the measure.

Dukes twice questioned the process and how projects were chosen, pointing to the fact that there were no projects on the list of major regional projects for the people of south and southwest Dougherty County.

“My concern is, as we try and sell this to the community, that when you go into South Albany and specifically Southwest Albany and Dougherty County, there isn’t a single project on the list. So how can I pitch this to these people who weren’t ever considered?” Dukes said.

City Engineer Bruce Maples responded by saying that the list of constrained projects — the major regional projects funded by 75 percent of the T-SPLOST — were developed from the list of longterm projects already listed on the Albany Metro Planning Organization’s list.

Smaller community-based projects — like the ones that would impact Southwest Albany — will be funded under the city and county’s 25 percent discretionary pot.

Dukes then brought forward the idea of a South Albany bridge between the one at Oakridge Drive and the city of Newton and Baker County.

“Oakridge is the busiest bridge we have. To have one in the southern part of the county would help ease traffic on that bridge and connect the people in South Dougherty County,” Dukes said. “Right now, you’re planning a bridge for Clark Avenue that’s less than a mile from all of our other bridges.”

A look at the numbers from the latest studies shows that, contrary to Dukes’ statement, the Oakridge bridge is not the busiest bridge. In fact, it’s the least used — not counting the Broad Avenue bridge which has been closed since 2009.

According to a 2010 study, the average daily traffic on the Oakridge bridge is 22,000 — behind the Oglethorpe Bridge, which was at 26,000, and the Liberty Expressway bridge, which was at 44,000.

Sinyard responded to Dukes statement.

“That’s a great idea, you should’ve brought it before us at the meetings,” Sinyard said.

“I wasn’t invited to the meetings,” Dukes responded.

“They’re open meetings. You represent a lot of the people of Southern Dougherty County, you should’ve come to the meeting and told somebody,” Sinyard said.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHjWnEYTi0g

Comments

waltspecht 1 year, 12 months ago

Why is it always another tax of one form or another that is offered as the only solution?

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wonderbread 1 year, 12 months ago

Dukes was right but why pay more taxes? What about the gas tax we pay every time we fill up? Is it true that the Republicans have taken that and used it for another purpose? Where does the gas tax go?

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 12 months ago

I do agree with some of your statement and I do agree with Rep. Dukes. We don't need a bridge at Clark Ave. One at Oakridge would be more beneficial, but all and all I think a lot of people are going to be hard pressed to agree with this new tax. NO to T-SPLOST!!!

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 12 months ago

Also, you question Republicans spending on the gas tax, well, the citizens do question the Democrats about their spending in this city. All of you waste our money on failed projects or projects the community doesn't want or need. Democrats are just as bad if not worse. The Democrats have destroyed this town because of all the wasteful spending of our tax dollars.

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Trustbuster 1 year, 12 months ago

T-Splost is another gimmic by politicians to convince voters that the only way to fund special transportation projects is another sales tax. Most counties already have three types of local option sales tax for education, regular sales and special purposes. While sales taxes maybe a quick way to raise revenue they are regressive especially on people with low or fixed incomes. Adding another 1% tax for 10 years is too long to fund transporation projects. The biggest concern that I have about T-Splost is that we are trusting our locally elected officials (mayors, city councils and county commissioners) that they know best on how to spend tax money. Should we really trust these folks? Also the economy is still in bad shape and another tax which probably would never be rescinded is to be collected. I plan to vote no.

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missdaisy 1 year, 12 months ago

Wrong! Sales taxes are proportionate, not regressive. The more you spend, the more you pay. Higher income folk buy more expensive toys, ergo they pay more taxes.
A remedy for corrupt or incompetent public officials? Run for office yourself or support a candidate that feels the way you do on the issues. Don't sit back and whine about it; do something.

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Trustbuster 1 year, 12 months ago

First of all I shouldn't have to run for office to express my opinion as a taxpaying citizen. Secondly the roundtable member from my county hardly attended any of the meetings concerning this issue. This tells me that he either is apathetic or already made up his mind. Thirdly sales taxes are indeed regressive. Ask any economist! The only proportional tax is a flat rate tax. We would be better served by such a tax. Also most of the people in the video are govt. or agency heads. Several of them I have already spoken to either by phone or email. They know my position!
These officials like it because it raises more revenue and reduces accountability. State and county governments waste money too. Just ask the Lee Co. Tea Party people.

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myside 1 year, 12 months ago

 Since the birth of SPLOST it has been projected by politicians as the only way to provide the money for every project they are interested in. This is their ploy to be able to say, "We didn't raise your taxes, You voted to raise your taxes yourself". 
 They always keep the increase at one percent because they know that they have another SPLOST waiting in the wings and one percent  each time is much easier to sell than adding three or four percent at one time to cover them all. There is no end to this way of getting more money to waste without taking any blame for raising everybody's taxes.
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ustaknow 1 year, 12 months ago

i say no to any more taxes- once it starts it never goes away. I fully supported last splost and then all of the waste gets swept under the rug. Right now we have the school teachers getting paid and they were caught stealing. i will never support any more tax increases until we stop stealing from tax payers

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 12 months ago

Dukes just wants to play the Race Card. Not mentioned in the article is that the Oakridge Bridge is a 4-lane bridge............and one of the least busy. Plenty of bridge there for all to use, and one of the newest in town if not THE newest. The further southwest you go, towards Newton, the less population and the less need.

Dukes just wants to play the Card and get his constituents riled up and Pose for Votes.

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 12 months ago

Dukes is also up for reelection this year in a redrawn district. Just sayin'

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whattheheck 1 year, 12 months ago

Let's settle this thing with a good fistfight and Dukes it out, guys! Anyway, I don't want any part of T-SPLOST or any other SPLOST. Go to WALB's site and download the full project list and see how many of these "needs" really are needs. One of the immediate projects is the "underpass"near the Mall to connect Westover and Ledo. If TSPLOST doesn't pass does this project go away? Nope, it is a done deal regardless of funding source.

An extension of Clark AV from Maple to Jefferson--down the road project. My gosh, that would give us a fifth bridge! But this one would be important since it will dump folks at Phoebe's door so they can be billed faster. Why not Phoebe pay for the project--they have the money and we don't.

TSPLOST is simply another slush fund for politicians. It supplants, or frees up, funds for these types of projects which are already embedded in sources such as gas tax. It is another of those taxes that hold folks hostage--"if we don't get the money we will have to raise your taxes". Well guess what? They already have and where are you now?

A project not on the list that would really help those who pay taxes would be to widen the highways out of town so folks can leave Albany faster at night as they slink to safer areas--or leave permanently in search of a better life.

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 12 months ago

Technically a sixth bridge, two on the bypass. Our bridge cup runneth over.

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Shinedownfan 1 year, 12 months ago

You cant count the bypass as two bridges... unless they both had two-way traffic. They should leave the Broad Avenue Bridge as a pedestrian bridge and build the Clark Avenue Bridge instead of replacing the one downtown.

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 12 months ago

Of Henry Mathis and Orlando Rambo are for it then I am against it. I was against it anyway, just wanted to make that point. Just vote NO!

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VSU 1 year, 12 months ago

If we are to think of this as an investment and not a tax, then shouldn't we as investors get a percentage of any transportation revenue (Bus Fare Etc.) I am being sarcastic of course.

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dingleberry 1 year, 12 months ago

Geez, I hope so. Adding to it, we as investors seem to keep making poor decisions, don't we? Oh, that's right', our "brokers" are usually doing this for us and telling us later what they did. We don't need these investments--and less "brokers" would work out better for taxpayers too.

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iko 1 year, 12 months ago

One more tax. Why not stop building wasteful projects instead. Vote NO.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 12 months ago

I voted NO on the last LOST but all the folks with the gimme mine mentality out-voted me.

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myside 1 year, 12 months ago

Anything that causes me to pay more tax is a tax increase. It's as simple as that. I feel that I am already over taxed, so I plan to vote no. After this 10 year period to pay for these "improvements" we will face another one percent SPLOST tax to pay for the repair or improvements to this one, or an extension of this one percent for another ten years. That's the history of SPLOST.

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Trustbuster 1 year, 12 months ago

Once a tax is passed it is hard to get rid of it. Read your history books. During the Spanish-American War the telephone tax was levied to pay for the costs of the war. When the war ended the tax was kept in place. We still pay it every time the phone bill comes in. Another great example is the income tax. After the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 it was implemented with a revenue bill taxing high incomes around $500,000.00. Only a few people paid at first like Rockefeller. Then by WW 2 it was expanded to include most wage earners filing yearly tax returns. The wartime tax was never ended! I could go on and on but will not waste all this space making my case. Our economy is overtaxed and overregulated. When will politicians be held accountable for their wasteful spending and pork barrel projects?

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Amazed2 1 year, 12 months ago

Government at all levels, city, county, state and federal all want new taxes. They need the taxes to grow and fuel government and special programs like welfare and peach care and food stamps, etc. They say they don't use these new taxes but what they do is free up monies so they can do all this goverment growth. Vot NO to any time you get the chance too when it comes to tax. When is the last time you were asked to Vote Yes to stop or cancel a tax. Never they always just want 1% more, never 1% less. Vote NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Martian 1 year, 12 months ago

No more taxes. Who but the government gets to add a new tax when it can't operate within a budget? Sign up for some financial counseling to learn how to operate within a budget. Don't expect instant gratification at the expense of taxpayers.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 12 months ago

What is going to happen if it is voted down? I have always been against it, but most folks just do what the politicians say to do. Maybe this will be one time people actually use their common sense. I am concerned on how the money will come south to us. I do not trust Atlanta one bit. Just look Atlanta area is getting a new drug plant and we are losing ours. They cannot even water themselves and they keep them coming in droves. The should be a ban on building in Atlanta until the water issues are resolved. You cannot tax yourself out of debt.

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Cartman 1 year, 12 months ago

Dukes wants to build "The Bridge Over the River - Why?"

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Cartman 1 year, 12 months ago

BTW, TSPLOST and ESPLOST are for the citizenry to vote to raise taxes on itself. The bureaucrats get to spend the money irresponsibly. You can't gripe about it because you voted for it. The only defense we have is to oppose ALL and ANY tax increases. Just say NO. Regardless of the guilt trip the bureaucrats lay on you. Spending needs to be cut - not taxes increased.

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coachjohnson42 1 year, 12 months ago

Dukes is right about south Albany not being on the list....why is that people????

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Jacob 1 year, 12 months ago

Maybe they considered it from a perspective of who pays taxes and who sucks up tax dollars and decided to give the producers priority instead of the consumers. Or, maybe they just figured south albany was doing well all by itself.

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beartrap 1 year, 12 months ago

south Albany gets more than their share of tax payer money..it's in the form of welfare,food stamps,free lunches.free cell phones and the cost of arresting and incarcerating a high percentage of those living there....

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richie 1 year, 12 months ago

the gas tax was referred to in the story but not accounted for by the TSPLOST proponents; if you follow the gas tax money you will find the truth

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richie 1 year, 12 months ago

the gas tax was referred to in the story but not accounted for by the TSPLOST proponents; if you follow the gas tax money you will find the truth

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coachjohnson42 1 year, 12 months ago

based on what beartrap says....I'd be voting NO as well!!!

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