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T-SPLOST question to be answered

ALBANY, Ga. — No matter what ballot voters take Tuesday, they’ll be faced with a question that is arguably the single most important for this region this election cycle:

Should a 1 percent sales tax be levied for transportation projects in Southwest Georgia?

The question is simple, but the context behind it, and the ramifications to the local and regional economy and the future of this part of the state, are not.

The T-SPLOST has its roots in a determination by state legislators that the Georgia Department of Transportation’s chief funding mechanism, a fuel-based tax levied on the number of gallons sold, was decreasing to the point that it could not sustain the transportation project needs of the state.

As fuel consumption has decreased with the increase in more fuel efficient vehicles, higher overall gas prices and decreases in traveling because of the economy, so have GDOT’s revenues.

In 2010, a bill passed by the General Assembly established a guide that would eventually lead to a public vote on a new funding mechanism for transportation projects, one based on the creation of a 1 percent sales tax earmarked specifically for regional transportation projects.

That law called for the formation of regional roundtables comprising elected officials from the cities and counties in each region who would create a wish list of regional projects in what was deemed to be an unconstrained project list.

That list was then compared against planned Georgia Department of Transportation projects and capped using projections by the state economist. The numbers suggested that 14 Southwest Georgia counties that comprise District 10 could generate $530 million in sales tax revenue with the 1 percent tax over the next 10 years.

That constrained list of projects is what will be constructed if a simple majority of voters in the Southwest Georgia district approve the T-SPLOST referendum Tuesday.

T-SPLOST is backed by Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and is being pushed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce as a measure that is needed to spur economic development and make Georgia competitive with other states as it works to recruit new industries.

Cagle, specifically, has pointed to the fact that Georgia is 49th in the nation on transportation spending as evidence that the funding mechanism for transportation needs is broken.

But a 2011 report by the Pew Center of the States shows that Georgia is one of 13 states that was excelling in nearly every aspect of transportation, including safety, jobs and commerce, mobility, access and infrastructure preservation.

Economic development is tied to infrastructure spending, however, as noted in a separate report.

In an April 2009 study analyzing the impact of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute pointed to investment in infrastructure, including transportation, as a viable way to spur economic growth.

“Each dollar of infrastructure investment provides on net about $1.59 in additional economic growth, making it about 33 percent more effective than generic tax cuts and 10-15 times more effective than many variants of business tax cuts,” the report states. “In short, infrastructure spending, broadly speaking, is about as good a form of economic stimulus as there is.”

Opponents to the measure say that increasing taxes will stymie growth, not increase it, and will make Georgia — and specifically the regions that pass the T-SPLOST — less appealing to prospective companies.

A study done by Beacon Hill Institute of Public Policy Institute at Suffolk University in Boston in which a proposed increase in sales tax in Ohio for schools was examined, reported that increasing the sales tax from 5 to 6 percent in Ohio would lower employment by 0.8 percent.

Opponents to the measure have also questioned oversight of the sales tax revenues and expressed concern over how closely the 25 percent discretionary funds that will be handed to local governments for local projects will be monitored.

Proponents counter that the law calls for a local review board to be appointed by the Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston to audit how the regional project funds are spent each year and that local projects are held to the same auditing procedures and transparency that traditional construction projects handled by local governments are.

For this region, the top priority is the four-laning of Georgia Highway 133 from Dougherty County through Southwest Georgia to Lowndes County. It’s a project billed by proponents as one that is important to the sustainibility of Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany by providing a direct, four-lane link south to Interstate Highway 75.

The regional project list includes construction of a Westover Boulevard extension under the Liberty Expressway that will connect to Ledo Road, along with a new bridge and extension of Clark Avenue from East Albany into the central business district.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

Here's my answer: Hell To The NO!!

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chinaberry25 2 years ago

The $81 billion in tax breaks brings industry in. How can tax on gas help us bring in an industry? It is better schools and quality of life. Do yo really think we are stupid?? You must. We have had the extra sales tax and the road taxes for years and it has not spurred and employment. Has not helped roads or schools either. They just need to look at Albany and see what it will do. Some of the stimulus money that was used for roads, most of the laborers were Hispanics, so we know most do not pay take and sent millions of dollars back to Mexico.

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1d2ec 2 years ago

The trouble with SPLOST is they never seem to go away, but we always need to add another. Can we stand a 10 or 15 cent sales tax as some areas have? We seem to be slowly going in that direction. No I don't have the answer and it seems no one else does. Remember the hot dry summer when we couldn't use water and the rates were raised to cover the budget, or the mild winter when less electric power was used, up the rate. The no 1 question is, how much can of a load can we stand before the camel;s back is broken?

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Trustbuster 2 years ago

The Pew Research Center 2011 report is where I got my information about our state's transportation system which I previously mentioned on this blog. This was one of the factors that convinced me to vote against T-SPLOST. This online article never indicated from the Beacon Hill Institute Study that the local option school sales tax truly reduced unemployment. I believe T-SPLOST will destroy as many jobs as it creates in each transportation district. No matter how you look at this issues it is another tax increase on top of the other taxes (federal, state and local) that citizens pay. Why should I continually pay more taxes to the government when it is already misappropriated?

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

THIS is why I'm voting NO. They are blowing too much of the money that we're already sending.....and thereby neglecting the road work, repair and expansion that they SHOULD be held accountable for already.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

How many folks down at the Dray line are laid off highway engineers or heavy equipment operators? None? I thought so..............

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dingleberry 2 years ago

Since SR133 widening to four lanes is one of our big projects and only two of the four counties it travels through are in our region, what happens if we in, our typical lack of wisdom, approve the proposal and the other region, showing better wisdom, does not, where does the project stand?

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whattheheck 2 years ago

I'm not interested in giving GDOT more money with even less chance of accountability.

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/audit-finds-gdot-financial-mismanagement/nK6hh/

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Trustbuster 2 years ago

GDOT wasted over 2 billion dollars according to the media story. How can we expect this scheme to work?

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Racc 2 years ago

You dont think that if the T-SPLOST passes that the construction companies in town will then get more work which will increase the number of ppl they need therefore hiring more folks which will help the unemployment rate, and give families an extra much needed income, or should these unemployed folks just stay on the system that us working ppl have to pay for??

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KaosinAlbany 2 years ago

The money will still have to go through GDOT and they have wasted millions in the past 4 years so don't count on it. T-SPLOST get LOST!!

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Racc 2 years ago

The president sure hasnt done ANYTHING to help the economy, except extend unemployment and welfare benifits for those sorry ppl who can but wont get out and get a job. So in that respect you are so right that for the past four years things have gotten worse then EVER!!!

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Cartman 2 years ago

Why wouldn't that logic apply to any employer? We should all pay extra taxes, so my company can get a government contract and everyone should be grateful because my company has workers who get a paycheck? Well. I'm still voting NO to T-SPLOST.

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WeAreThey 2 years ago

Let's face it - T-SPLOST is about making metro Atlanta pay for solutions to metro Atlanta's traffic problems. The revenue from Georgia's fuel taxes alone will never cover that. For Southwest Georgia, there's just no 'win' in it for we common folks. A 4-lane to I-75? We have one - it's called US 82. The Westover extension? Perhaps the developers who will benefit from it can fund it. If it's that important to Dougherty and Lee Counties, then make it a SPLOST project. A Clark Avenue extension into 'the central business district'? Really? Another 'appointed' board to oversee how the monies are spent? That reads "more political hacks who are not accountable to voters or taxpayers". We already have one of those, they have acquiesced control of a lot more than $530 million of this regions' monies and everyone, including the media, are unwilling to take them to task for their 'straw men' mentality. Another appointed board? I hope not.

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formeralbanyresident 2 years ago

Without the Splost Tax, what is going to happen to our roads and bridges? Here is a list of your Splost money at work.

http://www.albany.ga.us/filestorage/1800/41663/41835/SPLOST_I_-_IV_COLOR_BROCHURE.pdf

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doingwhatisright 2 years ago

Last night while in Athens, I listened to a newscast concerning Splost.. Sadly, it continously made the point that Atlanta,Hispanics, and Latinos would benefit the most from the increase. My vote...NO.

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formeralbanyresident 2 years ago

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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