Voters Guide to the Georgia TSPLOST
Gwinnett residents will vote on a transportation referendum on July 31, with a 1 percent sales tax at stake.
First of two articles.
What is the T-SPLOST?
The Transportation Investment Act of 2010 (TIA 2010) established 12 transportation tax regions in the state of Georgia. Each region can impose a 1 percent sales tax, with voter approval, to fund transportation projects within the region boundaries.
On July 31, 2012 registered voters in Georgia will cast ballots to designate if their region will introduce a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) for 10 years (2013-2022). Suwanee voters will vote at their regular Gwinnett County polling precincts (not City Hall.)
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Last year each district received input from the Georgia Department of Transportation, local governments, transit operators, and metropolitan planning organizations to create a list of proposed transportation projects within each region. A final list of projects was approved by “Regional Roundtables” composed of the county commission chair and one elected mayor from each county. The registered voters for each region will now vote if they want to impose a 1 percent sales tax to fund the list of approved projects.
What’s at stake?
If approved by the voters, 75 percent of the money raised by the tax in each region will be used for the projects approved by the Regional Roundtables (a committee of elected officials). The other 25 percent will be distributed to the local governments to be used for transportation projects designated at the local level. In the Atlanta Region, which includes Gwinnett County, the split is 85 percent regional projects to 15 percent local governments.
Since each district is voting for their regional projects only, it is possible for some districts to approve, while others do not. Also note that no counties or municipalities are allowed to be exempt from the tax. After 10 years, the entire process is required to repeat to continue. If leaders choose to continue the tax they will again propose a list of projects, and voters will approve or deny the tax.
Ten years of sales tax equates to large projections for revenue. According to the Department of Transportation in Georgia the projected revenue for each district is:
|1. NW Georgia - $1,487B||2. Georgia Mountains - $1,260B|
|3. Atlanta Region - $8,468B||4. Three Rivers - $947M|
|5. NE Georgia - $988M||6. Middle Georgia - $876M|
|7. Central Savannah River - $841M||8. River Valley - $594M|
|9. Heart of Georgia -$399M||10. SW Georgia - $530M|
|11. Southern Georgia -$671M||12. Coastal - $1,608 M|
What areas are in the Atlanta Region?
The Atlanta Region includes the 10 metro counties: Cobb, Cherokee, Clayton, Dekalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale. Each county is represented by the top elected county official and one mayor. For Gwinnett County that is Charlotte Nash, Gwinnett County Chairman, and Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson.
There are more than 150 roadway and transit projects on the list for the Atlanta Region and 22 of those projects are located in Gwinnett County with expected budgets totaling more than $1.5 billion. The largest proposed Gwinnett project is projected at $95 million and would benefit existing and committed bus services for an I-85 North transit corridor.
What’s proposed for Suwanee?
One of the Gwinnett projects is within the Suwanee city limits. The plan allocates $5.5 million for corridor improvements to reconstruct Buford Highway from George Pierce Park to McGinnis Ferry Road.
Lynne DeWilde, Public Information Officer for the City of Suwanee, commented on the proposed use for the 15 percent of the funding that would be distributed to local governments.
“Over the 10-year period of the TIA, the City of Suwanee is projected to receive about $3.5 million. The City tentatively expects to use 60 percent of this funding for resurfacing and road maintenance and 40 percent for intersection, sidewalk, and trail improvements,” DeWilde said.
Former Suwanee Mayor Dave Williams and Ron Williams of the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance give opposing viewpoints on TSPLOST.