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Georgians need to support TSPLOST

Nathan Deal's picture

Georgia’s history of progress is, in part, a tale of investment in transportation. Beginning with the port of Savannah in the 1700s and an extensive rail network in the 1800s, Georgia grew strong and prosperous because our ancestors understood the importance of building these vital economic connections.

It happened again after World War II with the development of the world’s most utilized international airport. We became the leader of the New South when we added a first-rate highway system that tied together our rural and urban communities and connected Georgia to the rest of our country.

Today, after decades of inadequate and inefficient transportation investment, our future economic growth is threatened by crumbling infrastructure and inadequate capacity. We are now challenged to invest in our continued growth and prosperity, and it is critical that we, like our ancestors, step up to the generational responsibility of maintaining and expanding our state’s transportation network.

That challenge will appear on the ballot next year in each of the state’s 12 transportation regions. Georgians will be asked to approve a one-percent increase in the sales tax to fund strategic transportation infrastructure projects.

Reaching this decision point was a sometimes challenging exercise in local and statewide planning and cooperation. For almost a year, city and county officials in each region compiled lists of important improvements. The Georgia Department of Transportation studied those lists and coordinated the requests. The result is a plan for $16-19 billion worth of projects to be funded over the next 10 years by the one-percent increase.

Here’s why this process makes sense for Georgia:

• Local officials and citizens – those most knowledgeable about local needs – put together the lists.

• Funds for those projects will be raised and spent entirely within those districts. The first 75 percent will fund each region’s projects and the remaining 25 percent will be given to the region’s cities and counties to spend on hometown transportation improvements with the greatest impact.

In other words, local decision makers determined local transportation needs and will receive 100 percent of the new revenues in their region to address those needs. Local communities are taking care of themselves, not waiting for action from Washington.

Citizens have a choice. The regions that approve the ballot question will get to use the money for their own local and regional improvements. Those that turn down the investment opportunity may save pennies, but will miss an important opportunity to position for economic growth and the jobs and dollars that come with it.

Why is this investment such an important step? First of all, this comes at a juncture when roads and bridges around the state need critical maintenance. Secondly, population growth has outstripped our investment in transportation infrastructure and we must add capacity to catch up.

As we seek to make Georgia more competitive economically, it is imperative that we have a highway system that promises business access to and from markets for both their people and products. Inadequate asphalt, system bottlenecks and the gridlock they create choke off economic activity.

For more than 250 years, Georgians have understood the value of investment in transportation infrastructure. Today, leaders on the local level have risen to the task. Now it’s our turn. I urge voters to understand the importance of keeping Georgia connected, to learn more about the plans for improvements in your region, and to encourage others to support the plans.

The ballot will ask Georgians to make a decisive investment in transportation. Regions that approve this investment will take a big step in the direction of securing Georgia’s economic future.

[Nathan Deal has been a prosecutor, a judge, a state senator and a congressman before being elected governor in 2010. Deal was elected as a Democrat in 1980 and switched to the Republican Party in 1995 while serving as the Ninth District representative to Congress, a north Georgia area that includes Gainesville.]


Gov. Deal is right. We should vote for TSPOST.

This is an investment in the future of the Atlanta region and Fayette County.

I hear voices who argue that Fayette County is an island not connected to the Atlanta region. They argue that we must reject any tax increase and pretend the future will be just like the past. Steve Brown and others have now raised the fear of "regionalism" which is something like communism, or socialism, or federalism, or something foreign that we must oppose. Silliness.

We are part of the larger Atlanta region and need to support transportation initiatives which benefit the entire area.


Mike King's picture

I respectfully disagree. Burdening the taxpayers who live within the counties of ARC without including the commuters of the surrounding counties such as Coweta, Carroll, and others who have as many if not more commuters using the same traffic arteries is a political expediency fraught with cronyism.

Had our legislature had the fortitude to increase the gas tax (state) throughout the commuting radius of Atlanta and earmarked those funds for the same projects, would the result not be the same?

Dondol's picture

(with hand over mouth coughing) Bull$h_T! It is redistribution at its best, no more, no less!

My sister lives in Stone Mountain and her little neighborhood newspaper had your column worded just a little bit differently. In the other papers our Governor kept saying how much we needed to fund mass transit.

I guess they cleaned our version up a little.

It will be a cold day in somewhere other than Heaven before I vote in favor of paying for Atlanta's transportation bills.

G35 Dude's picture

[quote]My sister lives in Stone Mountain and her little neighborhood newspaper had your column worded just a little bit differently. In the other papers our Governor kept saying how much we needed to fund mass transit.[/quote]

This statement makes me wonder if the Citizen itself is not compliant in this sham that is being played on the citizens of Fayette county. Surely even if this other newspaper is not affiliated with the Citizen the Citizen knew of the article. So why reword it for this area and not let us know?

Nice move Mr. Gov--taking the heat off the Legislature. First, shame on them for creating that regional organization and enabling legislation that would allow majority vote to become the law for all counties in the region--something akin to mass punishment! Bad, bad, government! Won't get my vote, but of course my vote won't count because I live in what will most likely be a minority county!

Atlanta traffic is bad...but people don't understand that The City of Atlanta has only 420,000 people out of almost 6 million in the greater 28 county Atlanta metro area. The Atlanta Regional Commission is comprised of ten of these counties that have bonded together for transportation purposes. These counties include mansions, ghettoes, bedroom communities, strip clubs, and everything in between. The TSPLOST would put billions into rail development and other projects that can't pay for themselves. With MARTA ridership down over the past several years, and people moving out of the area because of our poor economy, more rail construction simply is not justified, especially during the bad economic times we're having now.

I read that a recent MARTA study placed the cost of new rail at $20 dollars per each passenger ride. MARTA has lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several years. With Atlanta only the center of a vast commuting area, new rail won't solve the problem of commuters going from Doraville to Roswell, or Vinings to Woodstock. Whether congestion is actually "Atlanta traffic" or not depends upon how far away the governor is looking from his office at the state capitol.

As indicated above, recent elections confirm that Fayette County doesn't want the ARC or any other review board passing judgment on its projects, and it doesn't want to be tied into a mass transit rail or bus system that would be sorely unjustified from a population standpoint. Take New York City, for example, with 20 million people in the metro area. There, you can go for miles and miles and still be in a densely populated area. The New York subway system was built when things were cheap, and they have enough riders per stop to make it worthwhile. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has almost three times as many people in Los Angeles and Orange Counties as the Atlanta 28 county area, yet has stayed away from rail transportation.

Rail systems are only practical in dense urban areas where they are already in place. But even in those, they don't make a profit. And technically, Fayette County could vote not to participate in TSPLOST, yet be drawn into it by a majority vote of the other nine counties, some of which are almost ten times the population of Fayette County alone.

Bus routes might be helpful. But only in those areas where population density and ridership would make it practical. After all, each county has its own county government, and the total of all individuals employed by city and county governments alone in the 20 county area would probably fill up the Georgia Dome.

It should also be added that two previous Transportation Roundtable representatives from Fayette County have both been ousted by the voters. One had been presented with distinguished awards from the ARC for supporting its views. With the remaining representative's time in office up for grabs next

November, it will be interesting to see how closely he stays in tune with the public. Hopefully, those of you with concerns over Fayette County's role in the ARC will speak at the Fayette Commissioners meetings, or at least contact your Fayette Commissioners. Since the West Fayetteville Bypass project became a public issue, our people seem to be much more interested in their county government than ever before.

The person who will just stop and think..."now just how much would Fayette County lose by aligning itself with a diverse public transit program?"

A lot.

Most Counties have a 1% ELOST TAX, a 1% SPLOST TAX, and a 1% LOST TAX.

The ELOST TAX (Education Local Option Sales Tax) is a special tax for Local School Systems to improve infrastructure within their County.

The SPLOST TAX (Special Projects Local Option Sales Tax The State of Georgia through our General Assembly and Governor is asking the voters of all Georgia Counties to vote on a Transportation 1% sales tax called a TSPLOST tax in July 2012.

This 1% sales tax is in addition to other 1% sales taxes Counties already have in place. This would be called the TSPLOST TAX (Transportation Special Projects Local Option Sales Tax).
) is a special tax for Local County Government to improve infrastructure within their county.

The LOST TAX (Local Option Sales Tax) is a special tax to alleviate property taxes within the County, i.e. allows a reduction in the millage rate.

Now the State of Georgia wants voters to approve a 1% sales tax for roads and bridges and other infrastructure that falls under GDOT’s (Georgia Department of Transformation) purview.

This would bring to 4, the number of 1% optional sales taxes placed upon all Citizens of Georgia.

Counties using the SPLOST TAX get to keep all the monies collected (100%) from this tax to benefit the needs of their county. This tax CAN, and most often is, used to improve roads and bridges and other needs of the County.

Under the TSPLOST TAX rules, counties are only allowed to share 25% of the tax collected within their Region of Counties to be used within their respective counties. The other 75% goes to the Regions where there is a need for improvement bound by the constrained lists. This constrained list has a lot of input from GDOT as there are State roads involved and one Regions plan may need to match up with another Regions plan to avoid confusion. The funds will be used primarily in heavily populated areas where there are heavy traffic patterns.
Here is the main web link . Once there just click on the Projects lists or adopted criteria for your Region or any other link you might want to see.

This is a Discriminatory tax pitting larger counties against smaller counties within their Region.
Larger counties getting a bigger piece of the 75% that the State collects from the tax.

Our Counties have a SPLOST TAX we can use for improvement, and we keep 100% of it. We don’t need a TSPLOST tax where counties only get back a portion of the tax.

This TSPLOST TAX is being put to the voters because our Elected Officials have FAILED in their duties to provide a Budget and make a decision on how best to spend our tax dollars. And now they are asking the voters to make a choice about a 1% sales tax to increase the Revenue needed for Road and Bridge improvements.

We elected them to make these decisions on tax increases and Budget decisions and now they are spending untold Tens of Thousands in efforts to get this tax passed by the voters in July 2012 because they have failed to make decisions and now are attempting to shift the decision to the voters, and let the PROPERTY OWNERS GUARANTEE the debt.

This is a BAD TAX for the citizens of Georgia. I ask you to send our Legislators back to Atlanta to make a RIGHT decision and do what we pay them for, and that is to make hard decisions based on EQUALITY of taxation. The ones that do the most damage to our transportation infrastructure are the trucking industry, let them man up and bear a bigger share of the burden.

This tax hurts the poor the worst and there is NO food exemption for this tax.



Here are some ideas you can use.

In regards to TSPLOST.

I understand the needs of Transportation in the State and that counties need every penny they can get but I think the General Assembly and the Governor has taken the easy road of trying to get passed a 1% TSPLOST tax and instead should tackle some of the possibilities below.

As of 2004 Georgia had the lowest Fuel and Vehicle Taxes as a Percent of
Total State Highway Funding in the Country.

Motor fuel taxes can stand an increase, as Georgia ranks 50th in excise tax in the Nation at 7.5 cents per gallon, and yet we pay basically the same price at the pump. A few pennies difference here and there between States but the same differences we find town to town within our state. Price volatility will affect the sales tax receipts but not the excise tax which is based on gallons sold. Georgia also ranks 48th overall in lowest gas taxes. Raise the excise tax.

Toll roads offer one of the best solutions for transportation revenue but our Governor has backed away from that because he wants to get re-elected.

The trucking industry, which causes most of the road damage, is another source; they can pay their fair share.

Making the transit systems break even or profitable is a solution.

Container fees and custom duties at ports of entry for ports improvement.

A Local option motor fuel tax for the counties or a State option tax for GDOT on motor fuels only.

A rental car surcharge for Transportation needs.

Transit fees.

And I'm sure our legislators can come up with some other ideas, after all that is why we send them to Atlanta. We did not send them there to destroy county Home rule.

One of the questions is; who will the State subsidize in taxes collected by offloading those taxes to another segment, like a 1% optional sales tax.

I thank you for your service and ask you to fight to keep County Home Rule as opposed to Region Rule.

Vote NO to Tsplost

Mike Sims
Blairsville, Ga.


G35 Dude's picture

[quote]Making the transit systems break even or profitable is a solution.[/quote]

This has not happened in the past. Why do you think it'll start now? But it (mass transit)will happen and we'll be forced to subsidize it with tax dollars. You can count on me to vote no to any splost. I think most Fayette County residents understand the term "Once burned twice shy!". Thats why the vote will be regional not county by county.

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