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What TSPLOST Means to Walton County Residents

If the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax passes on July 31, it is expected to bring $156 million to Walton County for six specific projects and discretionary funds totaling $24 million.

It's no secret that many public officials and civic organizations support the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST), which will appear on statewide ballots July 31.

The Walton County Chamber of Commerce also is promoting TSPLOST through ConnectGeorgia.2012 and is encouraging all of its 500 or so members, the community and business leaders to support the one-percent sales tax initiative. Officials say it will help fund millions of dollars of road improvements throughout the 12-county Northeast Georgia Region over the next 10 years. Counties in the Northeast Georgia Region include Walton, Newton, Barrow, Jackson, Oconee, Athens-Clarke, Jasper, Morgan, Greene, Oglethorpe, Madison and Elbert counties. 

The Northeast Georgia Region is in a separate region to Gwinnett County, which falls into metro Atlanta. Grayson voters as well as Loganville residents who live in Gwinnett County have a different set of projects to vote on. The two are totally separate in outcome as well. If one passes, and the other one doesn't, only those in the region that passes will have to pay the additional sales tax. It also means, however, that only the projects in the one that passes will be funded.

"Every penny in this region will stay in this region," Walton County Commission Board Chairman Kevin Little said when addressing members of the Walton County TRIAD. "The projects are listed. This is almost a fair tax. If you're happy with the roads in Walton County, then don't vote for it, but if not - look at what we're getting. If it is voted down, it can't come back for two years. If approved, it goes away after 10 years or before if these projects are completed before then. It will give us safer roads locally."

Little said he was vice chair of the Northeast Region committee, which decided on projects to be funded by the almost $1 billion in sales tax revenue expected for the region.

"With Baxter expected to bring 1,500 people to the regional and another 800 from Caterpillar, those people are going to have to live somewhere, they are going to be traveling on these roads," Little said, adding a local citizen's board would supervise the projects, not the state.

Jimmy Parker, chairman of the Walton County Chamber, gave a presentation of the TSPLOST at a political forum in Monroe on July 14. He went over the specific projects that the $156 million allocated to Walton County would cover. Two of the projects, as well as some of the discretionary funds, are specific to Loganville.

These are:

  • Highway 20 widening, including one-way pairs through the City of Loganville.
  • Highway 81 Corridor, including 10 major intersections from Walnut Grove to Loganville to Bold Springs ($5,540,000)
  • Additional local discretionary funds to be spent directly on County-City projects ($24,000,000)

Additional Walton County projects include:

  1. Highway 138 Widening from Monroe to Walnut Grove ($74,055,000).
  2. Monroe Bypass from US 78 to SR 11 South ($21,720,000)
  3. West Spring Street and Highway 138 Widening and additional lanes to alleviate congestion ($2,510,000)
  4. US 78/SR11 Interchange improvements to existing ramps to alleviate congestion and improve traffic safety ($4,860,000).

The US 78/SR11 interchange has been a problem for citizens for several years, and for local residents specifically when, in September last year was killed at that intersection. He was on his way to have lunch with his wife at the nursing home in Monroe. At that time, officials with the

Other facts the chamber is touting in support of a "yes" vote on July 31 are:

  • Despite Georgia being the third fastest growing state in the nation, it is 49th in per capita spending on transportation infrastructure.
  • Georgia has the lowest motor fuel excise tax in the southeastern United States.
  • Georgia's funding from fuel tax has not kept pace with the state's critical needs.
  • TSPOST Regional Sales tax is a more fair way of distributing funds where they are collected.
  • According to the Federal Highway Administration, every $1 billion invested in highway construction supports 27,823 jobs and generates up to $2.5 billion in direct and indirect economic activity.

But not everybody is in support of the TSPLOST and Patch has covered many stories of people speaking out against it, sparking a lot of discussion on the issue. These include:

It is an important issue and voters are urged to do as much research as possible before voting on the measure.

M Lipsey July 16, 2012 at 01:50 PM
My vote is a big NO.
brad labour July 16, 2012 at 06:03 PM
we are constantly asked for more money in taxes, but we rarely see the money spent wisely or what it was for. why should we trust any governmental group to live up to the plan? look around at the highway spending and waste. I vote no.
ED CARR July 16, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Waste, squander, misspend and misuse come to mind. I vote NO.
Chuck Bagley July 17, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Food for thought in Region 5 Walton County. Where else will you get outsiders to help you contribute 1 penny and get back 1 1/2 pennies? Where else do you have local elected officials choose the projects and then Local citizens monitor the projects? No money leaves the region, we don't have to worry about toll roads, hot lanes and MARTA. If Catapillar and Baxter are all we hope then the 10 year projection should end sooner because they were not part of the original projects. Do we have a Plan B or do we just let roads move along on their own? The best part is we have the choice, it is our vote TSPLOST or Plan "B"
Carlos July 25, 2012 at 08:01 PM
According to the Wall Street Journal Georgia is the most corrupt state in the nation and it's elected leaders chose to do nothing to tix the problem. Why should they have more of my money to line their pockets. 1. Georgia > Overall grade: F (49%) > Public access to information: F > Legislative accountability: F > Political financing: F > Ethics enforcement agencies: F Georgia has the worst levels of corruption risk and lack of accountability of any state in the country. The state scored a D or worse in 12 of the 14 categories. The state’s biggest problem is the absence of a strong ethics enforcement agency. Republican governor Sonny Perdue managed to get an ethics bill through the legislature, but by the time it passed, his proposals to ban gifts to state workers and clearly define appropriate campaign spending had been stripped out. According to State Integrity reporter Jim Walls, while Georgia has provisions to prevent certain kinds of corruption in campaign finance and lobbying, the state is full of unaddressed loopholes and lax enforcement. “About 2,000 Georgia officials, including one in five sitting legislators, have failed to pay penalties for filing their disclosures late, or not at all.” Read more: America’s Most Corrupt States - 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/2012/03/22/americas-most-corrupt-states/#ixzz21fMXvEVO
John Edwards July 26, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Quite frankly, the traffic congestion in and around Walton County is not too bad. The items to be completed in Walton County are a joke and will provide no relief and very little REAL impact on property values or enhanced cost of living. I also agree the corruption and waste is a shame. As for me, I will vote no and ask everyone I meet to do the same. As far as a Plan B. REALLY? What are you running for office for if not to provide real solutions. We are already at 7% sales tax and we have not much to show for that. Just say NO...

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