The “Connect Georgia” campaign to improve roadways will be funded by the statewide sales tax increase for 10 years if passed.
According to Chairperson Judy Bailey of the Gordon County Board of Commissioners, the tax will bring in $1.7 million each year for ten years for the county.
Local commissioners and mayors from each of the 15 Counties in Georgia attended the Northwest Georgia Regional Transportation Roundtable, presenting a list of projects for improvement in each area.
Bailey attended the roundtable meeting, and describes the process.
“What we did was sit down and come up with a list of projects for our counties. Then we took that list and sat down and looked at it on a regional scale, in other words, would what was on my list benefit Floyd, Bartow, Whitfield county” said Bailey.
She explained that the roundtable took ideas and explored the regional impact of each.
“Then we drilled down into those projects that would have the greatest impact regionally. Then we took it one step further and thought about what would be good for the whole 15 county region,” said Bailey. “So that’s how we came up with the list and then we submitted that list to the executive committee comprised of five people.”
Next, according to Bailey, counties were divided into three and each group chose one person to represent them on the Executive Committee, and W. Michael Babb, Commissioner of Whitfield County, was chosen from the group of Gordon, Whitfield and Floyd, Bailey said.
“That five-member executive committee actually took our list and the dollar amount of money that these projects were projected to cost and then they whittled it down and gave it to the Department of Transportation,” said Bailey.
On July 31, voters will be asked to vote yes or no to the 1 percent sales tax increase to fund the projects listed below.
The Project List
According to the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Office of Planning, the projects to be funded by TSPLOST funds, if voted into action in July, are as follows:
According to Bailey, the vote will be statewide, but results will happen regionally and locally. If the vote is “no” for a region or for a county, the effects may be negative she said
“If it passes state-wide you (county) will still have to pay, but your region won’t get the benefits from it. It is really set up to penalize you if your region does not pass it,” said Bailey.
For example, explained Bailey “Gordon County could pass it and Whitfield could not, but if it passes in your whole region, Whitfield would still have to pay. If our region votes it down and the rest of the state votes it in, then we don’t have to pay a penny, but then we are penalized because we don’t get any funds, and then we would have to pay more local dollars for any projects.”
According to Doug Callaway, Executive Director for the Georgia Transportation Alliance, the tax will bring three essential things to Georgia; more jobs, safer roads and local control.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about transportation, it’s about economic opportunity. It’s about hope for the future…. more jobs, safer roads, and local control. In my view, my fellow Georgians want that,” said Callaway.
According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia is the third fastest growing state in the nation, but money spent on transportation funds is lacking.
“Today, Georgia invests less than the national average as a share of its GDP and devotes fewer resources per capita to transportation than any U.S. state except Tennessee,” according to the Executive Summary to the 2010 McKinsey report to Gov. Sonny Perdue.
For questions about the vote on July 31, contact the connect Georgia campaign office at 706-329-4224.