The TSPLOST vote wasn’t even close across the 15-county Northwest Georgia region, falling by a 88,099-41,856 margin.
The penny sales tax for road projects did pass in Dade County, but wasn’t much of a contest in the other 14. The TSPLOST carried four precincts of the seven precincts in Dade County, but was carrying only three other precincts in all of Northwest Georgia, one each in Floyd, Gordon and Catoosa counties.
In Gordon County, the TSPLOST vote lost by a 39 percent margin with 3,073 of the votes for the tax, and 61 percent and 4,807 votes against the tax. Only the Calhoun City precinct carried the TSPLOST vote with a very small margin of 50.38 percent for the tax with 986 votes, and 49.62 percent margin against the tax with 971 votes.
In Floyd County, the TSPLOST lost by 6,143-3,051, with one precinct outstanding at deadline. It did carry the South Rome precinct by an 85-67 margin.
The penny tax would have raised $1.4 billion in the region, paying to widen Ga. 140, Rockmart Highway, and jumpstarting the proposed U.S. 411 to I-75 connector.
Voters in three regions of the state, surrounding Augusta, Columbus and Dublin, passed the road program.
“This was a tax increase in a bad economy, to the intuitive as well as the informed that does not work. People just said no tax in this bad economy,” said Mike Morton, a leader of the local Tea Party.
“I think there would have been greater support for it if we didn’t have 10.6-percent unemployment and if we didn’t have houses being foreclosed on in record numbers,” Morton continued.
Kyle Abernathy, who cast a ballot at the manning Mill Recreation Center in Adairsville agreed. “So many people are already overtaxed,” Abernathy said. “I have questions about how the money is going to be spent and the 10 years of spending time is another thing that concerns me.”
“It won’t help me and I’m on a fixed income,” said Harold Glass of Resaca.
Jerry Norman, of Rome, expressed a similar sentiment. “I think it would be a good thing if the money went to the right place,” Norman said. “I think everyone is afraid that the money is going to be boondoggled.”
Ahmad Hall of Adairsville said he did his homework and understood what he was voting for. “I just thought it was common sense, I knew from the get go,” Hall said. “I knew it was something for this region.”
Hall said he felt like the way the region was growing, the road projects proposed for funding from the tax would be beneficial to the entire Coosa Valley area.
Lacey Pinson of Rome shared a similar opinion. “I just think if the funds are used in the best interest of the city, and are going to improve transportation, then I’m for it,” Pinson said. Does she trust government to carry out the lengthy priority list of transportation projects? “I think you have to to some extent,” Pinson said.
“I’m greatly disappointed because I think our alternative is going to be much worse,” Northwest Regional Commission Executive Director Bill Steiner said. “There are rumors of increasing gasoline taxes and the figures show that would be 25 cents a gallon to make up the difference. I think that would be an undue burden, particularly on low and moderate income families whereas the sales tax is paid by everybody in the state and people who visit the state frequently or travel through the state.”
Though the T-SPLOST was voted down in Gordon, major projects such as the bypass and the Union Grove interchange will proceed, according to Gordon County Administrator Randy Dowling, who says federal money for the projects would have been diverted elsewhere if T-SPLOST had been passed.
“The county still has its SPLOST revenue for road projects and that will be good for six years, and we have $9 million earmarked for road projects, but we are not going to be getting any extra,” said Dowling. “Gordon County will be okay when it comes to road maintenance since the TSPLOST did not pass.”
With the one percent not passing, the proposed road construction may not happen as quickly as residents may like, according to Gordon County Chamber of Commerce President Jimmy Phillips, who also says tax payers will be affected.
“Whether you’re a business or resident, traffic is an issue not only in Gordon County, but in the state of Georgia,” said Phillips. “I want to stay as positive as I can about it, I was glad to hear maybe the state leadership and local leadership will be involved to find another plan and maybe it will be a better plan, I am hopefull the new plan will be better, and I think it will, I am hopeful that is going to help.”
Floyd County Commission Chairman Irwin Bagwell said that since the tax was defeated across the majority of the state, he can see county commissioners across the state going back to the legislature and asking for state road money because the region did not pass the tax.
“It will put us at a disadvantage for industrial prospects because we still need to build the roads and it’s going to cost us more to build them and that will certainly put us at a competitive disadvantage,” Bagwell said.
Steiner said concerns about the impact on industrial expansion go beyond recruitment of new industry. “Industries already here might move,” Steiner said.