By law, the 1-cent Special District Transportation Sales and Use Tax ends at 10 years or when the projected revenues are raised, whichever comes first. The Legislature can ask voters to renew the tax. All construction must be completed within the 10-year collection period.
The vote is by region, and the tax will be collected by regions that correspond to existing regional commissions across the state. If the tax fails in one county but passes in the entire region, voters in that county still have to pay the tax. Regions that don’t pass the measure can vote again in two years, but only if the Legislature approves. In the meantime, any region that does not pass the tax will pay more outright for state projects. Local governments will have to provide a 30 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants provided by the state Department of Transportation.
If passed, tax collection will begin in January. The Georgia Department of Revenue will collect the money, and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission will distribute it. Richmond County is projected to collect $277.5 million over 10 years. The revenue projection is $841 million for Region 7 and $7.2 billion for the state. The counties that make up Region 7 are Burke, Columbia, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Taliaferro, Warren, Washington and Wilkes.
Regional roundtables composed of county leaders met for several months in 2011 to winnow down a project list that would not exceed the projected revenue collections. By law, lists were finalized Oct. 15. The list for Region 7 includes 85 projects estimated to cost $713 million. In Richmond County, several road-widening projects, 14 bridge repairs or replacements, road resurfacing and infrastructure repairs are on the list, totaling $301.9 million.
In each region that approves the tax, a citizens review panel will be charged with reviewing projects as they are carried out and making an annual report to the General Assembly. The panel members will be appointed by the speaker of the House and the lieutenant governor. They must be residents of the region they serve.