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T-SPLOST critical for economic development

Bruce Melton

Bruce Melton

Over the past 30 years, Georgia has benefited from both a strong economy and a growing population. Unfortunately, both are threatened by the under-investment in our transportation network. In fact, Georgia ranks 49th among all states in per capita spending on transportation.

During the three most recent fiscal years, Georgia only invested about $88 per person per year on our transportation infrastructure. Most Georgians spend this much each month on gasoline or insurance alone. The simple truth is that we cannot build the necessary new roads and maintain the existing roads for just $88 per person.

The actual needed investment is at least twice this amount. Think of the economy of Southwest Georgia: from paper products to crop dusters; from beer to peanuts, corn and cotton; from health care to insurance, banking, homebuilding and the list goes on and on. Virtually every business is directly dependent upon a well-maintained transportation network and every business will suffer from a poorly-maintained network.

We have a unique opportunity on July 31 to significantly increase highway and street construction and maintenance funding. The Transportation Investment Act of 2010 (TIA 2010) provides the mechanism whereby all 12 regions throughout the state have the opportunity to impose a special 1 percent sales tax (T-SPLOST) dedicated to needed transportation improvements within each region.

Southwest Georgia is Region 10, covering 14 counties. If the T-SPLOST is passed, it will be in effect for 10 years and will provide funding of approximately $530,378,773 and is projected to create 14,320 jobs in Southwest Georgia. Of this $530 Million, 75 percent, or $398 million, will be spent on a pre-determined project list across Region 10 and the remaining 25 percent, or $132 million, will be returned to the region’s local governments.

This 25 percent discretionary fund will return over the next 10 years these total amounts to area counties: Dougherty ($16.1 million), Lee ($6.5 million), Mitchell ($8.6 million) and Worth ($10.8 million). The counties can use their funds for a host of transportation projects including paving dirt roads, resurfacing, bridge construction and maintenance, etc.

The $398 million pre-determined project list for our region covers numerous important projects, none more important to our region than the four-laning of State Route 133 from Albany to Valdosta. Each time the BRAC Commission has met to evaluate bases for possible closure, our Albany MCLB has escaped due in part to our commitment to widen SR 133. T-SPLOST represents our best, and likely last, opportunity to get S.R. 133 widened to four lanes to facilitate the MCLB equipment moves to and from the ports. Also, this will give Albany another improved direct access route to 1-75.

Just last week, the Congress finally passed a federal highway bill after three years and nine extensions of the old bill. However, the new bill is only a two-year Bill rather than the normal six, and it provides funding levels about 10 percent below the previous bill. The Georgia D.O.T. continues to struggle with declining motor fuel tax revenues and debt from the programs of 2001-08.

It is obvious that Southwest Georgia can no longer depend upon Washington and Atlanta to fund all our needed transportation improvements. Additional taxes are never popular, especially in difficult economic times. However, I believe if you consider all the facts that you’ll agree with me that T-SPLOST is the most important economic development opportunity in a generation. So I ask you to join me on July 31 to vote “YES” for transportation and for the economic well being of Southwest Georgia.

J. Bruce Melton is president of Oxford Construction Co.

Comments

thedeepend 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm shocked a man who builds roads & bridges would have you to tax yourselves to build roads & bridges. This is exactly what TSPLOST was designed to do, from Atlanta all the way to Albany. Take from those who don't have, so those who do can have more. Oh, and don't forget to thank him and your local politicians for this wonderful opportunity to keep your family in dire straights. I'm not lying, they expect it. Wouldn't want to make him or his double gate buddies upset, while Albany's rank & file quietly goes hungry?

Normal citizens are wage slaves to the state & special interests, and lets be redundant, in this case that special interest is the Chamber of Commerce and in this article Oxford Construction. There is no difference between the parties, both represent the rich and only know how to tax & spend. Here's a question for wonderbread using his own vernacular, what is the historical trend when one class who controls both the government & means of production forces its will upon the rest of us?

The shame is those detached from the political process are carrion for vultures such as these. It may sound selfish, but I fight for family before the interests of the state because there is only one upon which I can truly depend. A quick look at Albany's poverty bears witness in how good a partner the state can be for those not to the manor born.

So Albany, who can spend your 1% sales tax more to your personal benefit? The family that depends on you or your self proclaimed betters?

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dingleberry 1 year, 9 months ago

Have to give you credit for having the guts to write an article while knowing we know your pockets will be filled with the fruits of our labor. Sorry, it didn't work. The only economic benefit resulting will be to you and our friends at Reeves and GDOT. Another rainmaker, one might say, after all the "shovel ready" work done under stimulus finally gets completed.

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HELLAVILLE 1 year, 9 months ago

It really gets under my skin how some people can blame certain construction companies but fail to mention the others in the surrounding county. This has brought some major certain to me and I have come to the conclusion that the voting people really don't understand how the GDOT, and othe biddibg jobs work.First of all each company has to place a B.Y.O.B.T.T.T an what this title means is BRING YOUR OWN BID TO THE TABLE and with this being done the lowest wins. They do not discrimate so fair is fair you lose some you win some.

T-SPLOST is to help the county that is collected in,it does not go outside that county. No matter what others say it stays. I know that we pay enough taxes but what if we could help our roads and produce more jobs at the same time. What do I say to that ? YES TO T-SPLOST. I'm tried of being laid off because companies are moving over seas or they are going under due to the economy. The T-SPLOST will create jobs for Georgians these jobs are well needed. I don't know how people can be negative about this when it will help.I know we pay enough taxes but I'm also looking to the future.

AS in the article Mr. Melton was looking to the future of his employees and their families who depend on them. He was just clearly stating the facts that this would help the economy no matter what construction company gets the bids.The T-SPLOST would help with jobs so our unemployment rate could go down and make roads safe. Some people who say say oh our roads don't need to be fixed yea right have you really looked lately. If you don't think so go down Ledo,Slappey,Washington, and alot of others.

I can clearly say I will vote YES FOR T-SPLOST cause I would like others to have jobs and not have to move away from their hometown because there isn't any jobs. I know for a fact their are many people to commute to Albany everyday to have a job and most of them are in the construction business. People seem to think that the construction business is only roads,bridges,etc but it is also effects the businesses where the companies buy their supplies.If the T-SPLOST is not voted in it will have the domino effect one goes others will follow.WE all depend on one another each job is effected by this.

To Oxford Construction,Reeves,and other construction company i hope the T-SPLOST goes through for this economy and for the families that depends on the companies to keep them here safe in their communty. GOD BLESS AND VOTE YES FOR T-SPLOST

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HELLAVILLE 1 year, 9 months ago

I have come to a conclusion people are so ready to say No to something when they do not understand how it works. Yes i am pertaining to the T-SPLOST. The first words out of everyones mouth is we pay enough taxes, yes i agree but we also have to look to the future. Roads,bridges,etc do not fix themselves so we have to depend on the construction companies to handle this for us.T-SPLOST will keep money in the county it is collected in and create new jobs. There are alot of Georgians out of jobs right now and I know if my vote would make a difference and create jobs it has my vote. I know from past experience being laid off from jobs going over seas or going under or from the economy I rather see this happen for jobs and the safety of families traveling the roads.

Why are some construction companies being mention and not others in the surrounding counties. When it comes to the GDOT jobs everyone has a opportunity to place a bid if they desire to I would like to call this B.Y.O.B.T.T. and this little tilte means BRING YOUR OWN BID TO THE TABLE no one knows who bids what and the lowest bid wins.

As far as what Mr.Melton was saying this if T-SPLOST is not voted in it will have an effect on everyone. You are sitting there saying how do you figure that well let me show you the light.If there are no roads,bridges,etc to be built or repaved the construction companies will have to lay off there workers and there it goes one ripple. The second ripple will be where the companies bought there supplies from they will no longer buy them so that will make there business slow or go under so that means more unemployment.Ripple number three will be no safe roads,bridges with this that means people will not come to this town so slower economy and perhaps with less jobs people will have to move away from there hometown.Mr.Melton has alot to worry about because his employees and their families depend on him to keep their jobs here.The question to ask is do I want to move or do I want to help my economy.

You need to ask yourself with this extra tax if i say no how many people would it unemploy and if I say YES how much longer could I stay in my hometown and how many people did I help get a job. Its alot to think about but this tax is worth it. I would like to continue having my job here in the go old USA.

GOD BLESS AND VOTE YES FOR T-SPLOST

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