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.
- 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:
- Highway 138 Widening from Monroe to Walnut Grove ($74,055,000).
- Monroe Bypass from US 78 to SR 11 South ($21,720,000)
- West Spring Street and Highway 138 Widening and additional lanes to alleviate congestion ($2,510,000)
- 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.