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T-SPLOST a path to help ourselves

Few things are as touchy as the subject of taxation. The consensus is that workers and property owners are overtaxed already, along with the perception that the government officials who are spending the money often aren't doing it wisely.

Given that, the idea of imposing a brand new tax isn't all that appealing to most people.

Yet, that is what Georgia voters are being asked to do on Tuesday -- vote to increase the sales tax imposed in their respective regions by 1 percent. For most areas of the state, this would increase the sales tax on items you buy from 7 percent to 8 percent.

The state has been divided into a dozen regions for this vote on a special-purpose local-option sales tax for transportation, better known by the acronym T-SPLOST. For a region that passes the tax, 75 percent of the revenues generated will be used to fund a list of transportation projects within that region that were decided on by representatives of the cities and counties within the region. The remaining 25 percent of the funds generated over the 10-year life of the tax would go to the various cities and counties within the region based on a ratio of population and road miles for local projects.

In the 14-county Southwest Georgia Region 10 that includes the five-county Albany Metropolitan Statistical Area, the T-SPLOST is projected to generate more than $530 million for projects that include the four-laning on Georgia Highway 133, which would give Albany and Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany a direct four-lane connector to I-75 in Valdosta; an extension of Westover Boulevard into Lee County; a bridge and connector over the Flint River at Clark Avenue, and other projects.

Proponents of the tax point to Georgia's abysmal spending record on transportation. Georgia Department of Transportation officials for years have said that there are billions of dollars more in needed projects than there is in funding. Georgia is the nation's third fast-growing state, but on per capita spending for transportation, it ranks No. 49. Sales tax on gas bought at the pump, meanwhile, is set on a per-gallon basis, not per dollar spent. Even though it costs more to fill up the automobile these days, the cutback in overall fuel consumption by motorists hit by the economy is causing those revenues to decrease.

A region that passes T-SPLOST gets favorable terms on future state-funded transportation projects, having to match only 10 percent of a project's cost rather than the 30 percent that regions that reject the tax will have to match.

Proponents also push T-SPLOST as a jobs creator, citing Federal Highway Administration numbers that say every $1 billion in highway construction creates 27,823 jobs and generates $2.5 billion in direct and indirect economic activity. For our Region 10, the projection is that T-SPLOST would create 14,320 jobs.

Opponents argue that wasteful spending is the cause for a lack of progress for Georgia transportation and that any tax levied to support those projects should come from the fuel tax. They doubt whether the jobs that proponents say will be created will come into existence, and that those that are created won't necessarily go to local workers.

The five-member regional commission that would be appointed by the lieutenant governor and House speaker to oversee the progress on the T-SPLOST projects, opponents say, takes away local control of tax revenues generated.

And they note that once a tax is voted in, it becomes a permanent fixture.

Both sides make good points in their respective arguments.

Why this road map for transportation improvements was created is simple, if unsatisfying. Georgia's Legislature and governor have bound themselves by pledging to never raise taxes -- including those at the gas pump, which is where transportation should be funded -- and are holding to regardless of the merit. By pushing the decision to voters in regions, state elected officials can avoid the stigma of raising taxes. And if a region rejects the new tax, state officials can point out that the region's voters were the ones who decided transportation issues weren't all that important to them. More importantly, particularly with the matching funds penalty for regions that don't pass T-SPLOST, state leadership is saying this is the way transportation projects will be funded in the foreseeable future.

We don't look at this as a jobs vote. We look at this as a funding mechanism -- albeit an imperfect one -- for infrastructure projects that are needed to help our region be competitive. There is a reason why population centers have developed near bays, waterways, railroads and, in later years, at places with good highway systems and airports -- transportation. People want to be able to get from place to place with ease, and businesses need the infrastructure to get goods to their stores and their products to markets at the lowest possible costs.

Our region is already at a big disadvantage compared to others in the state. Decades ago, we missed out on Interstate 75, which has had a profound effect on cities like Macon and Valdosta, and the Georgia Department of Transportation has said that Albany getting an interstate connector now is not feasible. For us, this is an opportunity to improve our infrastructure and to benefit from lower matching funds on future projects. Passing T-SPLOST is a chance to help ourselves.

Comments

rightasrain 2 years ago

Whether its called SPLOST, T-SPLOST, or whatever; a tax is a tax is a tax! I'm tired of being taxed!

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thedeepend 2 years ago

How very short-sighted of the Herald to support this tax, but being the editorial board is a one sided mouthpiece for the city/county commissions this joke of an endorsement was expected.

The regional approach by means of a sales tax will benefit Atlanta at the expense of the rest of the state. Not in the misguided way most people claim, but think of the volume of sales Atlanta sees no other regions does. This is a way Atlanta can keep that tax money and not have to share with the rest of the state. And face it, with our weak leadership & schools, we already can't compete with the northern part of the state in terms of attracting manufacturing jobs. The "build it and they will come" notion is pure Hollywood folks. So, who stands to gain most in Albany from this tax other than the man that owns a company that builds roads and the commissioners he donates to? I've said from the beginning, regionalism is a farce. Albany citizens have to look out for Albany first, yet we elected a mayor who is more committed to buying into the smoke & mirrors Atlanta puts out rather than the interests of her own electorate. Drop the regional approach and make Atlanta share its wealth with the rest of the state, then perhaps I would be willing to compromise. Until then, the rest of the state is being put out to dry.

You get what you vote for Albany. I hope you're satisfied.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years ago

I knew the Herald would endorse this tax. This is why I buy the Albany Journal because they are NOT biased in any way. T-SPLOST get LOST!!

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MRM 2 years ago

We are taxed enough already. You forget to mention that this tax hurts the poor, the unemployed, and those on fixed incomes the most. They rarely use roads but they will be forced to help pay for them.

Your article fails to mention this objection to TSPLOST: And who drew up these regional lines? Why did the legislators not just make this a local option sales tax rather than a regional one? Is a regional tax even constitutional? As I remember we had to pass an amendment to the Georgia Constitution in order to have local option sale taxes on the ballot. What us up with these arbitrary regions. Where in the Ga. Constitution is a regional tax ballot initiative even allowed? What happens if 10 of the 14 counties in our region vote it down but it still passes because Dougherty, Lee, Decatur, and Colquitt with their higher populations pass it. The sovereignty of those remaining 10 rural counties has been hijacked by the more populated counties. That is by definition taxation without representation.

I urge everyone who reads this to VOTE NO ON TSPLOST!

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HELLAVILLE 1 year, 12 months ago

Come on people do you think this tax is really hurting you or myself. As far as I see it T-SPLOST is the way. I know taxes are high but you know this tax will improve the roads in the community and provided jobs for those who seeks one. I'm so tried of the jobs disappearing in Georgia due to the economy and overseas.

The government has limited funds for road repairs and alot of businesses is depending on this bill to past. If this doesn't past it will cause alot of businesses to slow down to a crawl and others might closed down for slow economy. Several business depend on each other to work together to build a customer relationship to help each other with prices,availability,freight if we can keep it in our local area that means the economy here will grow. It is time to think about what you economy means to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would like to see the T-SPLOST pass because more jobs,roads being built or repaired and that means money being spent in my local area. If we don't take care of the local businesses who will. Who will make sure the roads,bridges,etc are being built to correction if there is no money in the area for them to get built.How will people get here if our roads are not transportable they won;t they will travel elsewhere.This is your hometown take pride in it and lets make more jobs and build better roads for it. We are the future .

VOTE YES FOR T-SPLOST

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Trustbuster 1 year, 12 months ago

Our current regulatory regime and tax policies contribute to job losses. This is why some manufacturers choose to relocated their operations overseas. Cooper Tire is a prime example. Also the real reason why the govt. has limited funds for road repairs was the misuse of $2 billion by the state highway commission. All the politicians want to do is shift the responsibility to someone else.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 12 months ago

We already have a splosh for roads. 8 more years to be exact. Tell where those jobs are? How will this be any different than the one we have. Have you ever seen a politcian tell the truth when it comes to money. In 10 years I would also vote down that school tax. We will have the highest rate in the state. FLA has no income tax, sales tax is the same rate and food is not taxed at all. They sock it to their tourists.

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formeralbanyresident 1 year, 12 months ago

You forget to mention that this tax hurts the poor, the unemployed, and those on fixed incomes the most. They rarely use roads but they will be forced to help pay for them. If this is indeed true, then how do they do their shopping and get to their appointments? I would venture to say thay they get there by the roads.

It is just like I read in another article on here, if people start losing their jobs, it is a domino effect. One company closes, then the epople they were purchasing from also lose out, possibly closing another business and so on. With TSPLOST, it will bring jobs to our communities, where they are needed. Not only will the local people be paying the taxes, but so will abyone that is passing through here or visiting. The revenue needs to be brought in, to better our roads, bridges, etc. Remember, this money will stay here in this region. It will not be sent to Atlanta, or Savannah or any other region. Our region needs to stand together on this and pass this Referendum. It is very vital to our economy here in Southwest Georgia.

The construction companies and commissioners are not lining their pockets, they are keeping jobs for people that want to work.

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Cartman 1 year, 12 months ago

Infrastructure for jobs to come to our area? What do you think they are telling the voters in the other 11 T-SPLOST regions in Georgia? Vote NO!

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Trustbuster 1 year, 12 months ago

T-SPLOST is a tax increase which takes more money from the private sector and transfers it to the public sector. In other words it will destroy as many jobs as it creates them for the vested interests. The money raised from the 1% sales tax will fund road and highway projects jobs that are temporary. Inefficient use of financial services. These types of jobs are not counted as job-years according to most economists. The same thing occurred under public works projects during the New Deal of FDR. Counties that did not list projects will be forced to pay for projects in other communities. I agree with the Edison mayor that T-SPLOST only favors larger communities. Rural communities have been struggling for years to attract new business and protect their local economies. T-SPLOST does not help them at all. Anyone who really understands economics knows that this idea is another tax and spend scheme created by politicians. VOTE NO!

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waltspecht 1 year, 12 months ago

You can see how well this regional split is going to work by watching Lee County and Leesburg work out SPLOST, or Dougherty County and the City of Albany. Do you really think it will be distributed in a fair and equitable manner? Up the tax on gas and diesel. That is about as close as you are going to become to having the users fund the roads they use. Go to the permit system for all commercial vehicles passing thru the State. No matter where their point of orgin or registration. Yes, this tax will be passed along to the consumer, but not in a in a manner that will jump out at you. Don't want to pay the fuel tax? Drive more conservatively, a vehicle that gets better milage, or car pool to the grocery store. Otherwise pay your fair share. Then there is the City in California that wants to charge a vehicle tax dependant upon the milage you drive each year, recorded by a GPS chip, just in case you try to beat the odometer.

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stc1993 1 year, 12 months ago

I read about that Walt, they are talking about doing that in FL a mileage based tax.

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Trustbuster 1 year, 12 months ago

Also the T-SPLOST supporters are now sounding like the president. The similarity is that govt. creates jobs, roads and bridges not business people. This is a foolhardy approach in thinking the govt. spending and taxing will bring us prosperity.

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Engineer 1 year, 12 months ago

Here is a little quote from somebody you should know of, "The state of our transportatation system affects our economy, and our future" -President Ronald Reagan Jan 6, 1983. Oh, hey, wait, here's another: "Radio Address to the Nation on Proposed Legislation for a Highway and Bridge Repair Program from November 27, 1982" : http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1982/112782a.htm

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DoctorDorite 1 year, 12 months ago

The only ones to benifit from this is the road contractors and the politicians, they'll have their celebratory BBQ's, beer, vacations, front row tickets to the ballgames while we peons struggle to make ends meet. Does the Albany Hearld really thank that Sasser, Meigs, Leary will get a share of this pie ?? The Regional Directors will become Gods overnight deciding who will recieve these funds and you can bet Albany will be mighty low on the list in this region with its reputation, then the editorial board will be crying foul, but it'll be too late. I still say about all incumbents VOTE THEM OUT !! regardless of the party they're linked to.

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formeralbanyresident 1 year, 12 months ago

The ones that will be benefiting from this is the entire Southwest Georgia Region. Better roads, jobs created. There are already jobs that have been decided on in the various counties if this tax passes. So yes, Sasser, Meigs and Leary will get their piece of the pie.

Are any of you looking at what this will do for our community? The unemployement rate in Albany was up last month. Don't you think that if this were in place, that rate would be much lower?

What are we going to do is the USMC closes because we have only one way to I75? How many more jobs will that cost us? The unemployment rate rises again then.

What are you going to do for food and groceries, when they close the roads to those places because there is no money to repair them? Or if you are able to get to them, how do you think the truck drivers are going to get to them to deliver the goods when the roads are closed? How will you get to the doctor, hospital or any other appointments because the bridge is out?

You need better roads and bridges all over Southwest Georgia. This Referendum will see that this happens. I for one am tired of having to dodge potholes or wonder if a road may cave in on me while driving down it. That is what this will do for us. This money collected will stay in this region for this purpose. None of the monies collected here will be sent to Atlanta.

My Vote will be YES.

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