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Special sales tax for Georgia transportation projects goes to vote July 31

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Across Georgia, voters in 12 regions will have their say July 31 

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Tony Yawn (left) and Jack Trude, of Reeves Construction, post a sign on Wrightsboro Road to encourage voter support for the 1-cent sales tax for transportation projects.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Tony Yawn (left) and Jack Trude, of Reeves Construction, post a sign on Wrightsboro Road to encourage voter support for the 1-cent sales tax for transportation projects.

on a 1-cent Special District Trans­portation Sales and Use Tax for various transportation and road projects. Even if residents in one county vote it down, however, they will still have to pay the tax if it passes in their region.

If a region votes it down, it can come up for a vote again in two years with the Legislature’s approval.

Here’s a primer about the tax, including what proponents and opponents say:

Q: What is the transportation special purpose local option sales tax?

A: Under the administration of Gov. Sonny Perdue, the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 created a referendum for a
1 percent regional sales tax to pay for transportation improvements across Georgia.

The state was divided into 12 multi-county regions where regional roundtables developed a list of transportation projects, including roads, bridges, airports, transit and other areas that can be funded by the revenue. Lists were finalized Oct. 15.

The July 31 vote is by region, and counties are not allowed to opt out of the vote. Region 7 (Central Savannah River Area) includes Burke, Co­lum­­bia, Glascock, Hancock, Jeffer­son, Jenkins, Lincoln, Mc­Duffie, Richmond, Taliaferro, War­ren, Washington and Wilkes counties.

Q: How is the tax collected and distributed?

A: If passed, tax collection will begin January 2013 and will be in place for 10 years. The Georgia Department of Revenue will collect the money, and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission will distribute the funds.

Richmond County is projected to collect $277.5 million over 10 years.

The revenue projection for Region 7 is $841 million, and $7.2 billion for the state.

Of the funds collected, 75 percent will go toward the approved list and 25 percent will be used for local discretionary projects not yet decided by city and county officials. The Georgia Department of Transportation is mostly responsible for project delivery.

The law calls for each region to develop a Citizens Review Panel that is responsible for assessing progress of the projects and issuing an annual report to the General Assembly.

Q: Will the transportation tax help Augusta’s economy?

A: Backers of the tax say transportation investment is crucial for future economic growth. Transportation pro­jects are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs, improve trucking routes for commerce and attract businesses.

Connect Georgia, an entity created by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to promote the referendum, said the tax will invest up to $19 billion in the state’s economy over 10 years. An estimated 22,700 jobs will be created in Augusta’s region.

Georgia lags behind other states in transportation investment, although it is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, according to proponents.

Some opponents, however, question the validity of the economic calculations and see the tax as just another tax.

Q: What do proponents of the tax say?

A: Sue Parr, the president and CEO of Augusta Metro Chamber of Com­merce, touts the tax as essential to the state’s economic health.

“Manufacturers who move their goods rely on our roads,” she said. “They need good connections to good highway systems in other parts of the state and in other states.”

Wayne Yost, the owner of Wrens-based Team Excavating Co., said if state taxpayers don’t fund infrastructure improvements, they’ll never get done.

“We as a people and especially local people for our local infrastructure are going to have to take responsibility for our own infrastructure and local economy,” he said. “If we’re going to wait on federal funds, we are going to be left behind.”

Q: What do opponents of the tax say?

A: Joe Bowles, Augusta’s Mayor Pro Tem, said it will hurt the local economy more than help it.

“Why go up another percentage when it’s just going to drive more people to North Augusta for gas, groceries and even big-ticket items?” he said.

Columbia County activist Al Gray sees the tax as another unwelcome government intrusion.

“To me, it’s an expansion of the government that I’ve always been against, and at the same time, it’s going to increase my cost of living,” he said.

RICHMOND COUNTY

WINDSOR SPRING ROAD

$25.3 million

($4 million from tax)

Widen from two to four lanes, from Tobacco Road to Willis Foreman Road; first phase starts in 2013

BROAD STREET

$25 million

($25 million from tax)

Resurface and reconstruct from Washington Road to Sand Bar Ferry Road, scheduled to begin in 2016

WRIGHTSBORO ROAD

$21.5 million

($2 million from tax)

Widen from Jimmie Dyess Parkway to Interstate 520; scheduled to start in 2013


COLUMBIA COUNTY

FURYS FERRY ROAD

$50.2 million

($50.2 million from tax)

Widen from the South Carolina state line to Evans to Locks Road; scheduled to begin in 2016

OLD PETERSBURG, OLD EVANS ROADS

$30.7 million

($20 million from tax)

Widen both roads from Baston to Washington roads, starting in 2016

HORIZON SOUTH PARKWAY

$26.2 million

($26.2 million from tax)

Widen from Wrightsboro Road to Interstate 20; scheduled to begin in 2019

CAST YOUR BALLOT

ADVANCE VOTING: Richmond County voters may vote through July 27 at the Board of Elections Office, 530 Greene St., Room 104, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Hours will be extended the week before the primary until 6 p.m. daily. Voters must have acceptable photo identification.

VOTE BY MAIL: Submit a written request to the Board of Elections by either mail or fax. The request must contain the voter’s name and address as registered, date of birth, date of election for which the ballot is being requested, and the voter’s party preference, if desired. The request must be signed. Ballots will be accepted through July 27. Photo ID is not required to vote by mail.

ON ELECTION DAY: Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 31.

Comments (20) Add comment
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Little Lamb
46891
Points
Little Lamb 07/14/12 - 10:21 pm
5
0
Raising Taxes in a Recession is Suicide

The Ga. DOT has built some good roads, and they have built some shoddy roads. But to raise our taxes for road repairs and widenings is absurd! We will still be paying per-gallon gasoline taxes, sales taxes on gasoline, and now this additional sales tax on everything we buy (including, as Joe Bowles mentions, TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, automobiles, iPads, etc.). Vote early, vote often, and vote NO!

Little Lamb
46891
Points
Little Lamb 07/14/12 - 10:24 pm
5
0
Public Transportation

Don't forget that much of this regions’ taxes will be spent on the Augusta Public Transportation sinkhole. Just one more reason to vote NO!

i-feel-older-2day
77
Points
i-feel-older-2day 07/15/12 - 08:11 am
5
0
looking back

The projects of the past where poorly done and now new ones, I don't thing so. Fix Bobby Jones, 5th Street Bridge.................

thard033
19
Points
thard033 07/15/12 - 09:27 am
6
0
VOTE NO!

Why aren't you focusing on the controversial one--you know where we pay to move Berckmans Rd just so the Augusta National can connect their property? Are we giving the present Breckmans Rd to the National? Are we having to buy the land from the National to build the new Berckmans Rd? Who knows--Augusta news media won't cover it.

avidreader
3377
Points
avidreader 07/15/12 - 09:43 am
5
0
No, No, No!

No more taxes! Cut more fat from the county budgets! Prioritize more efficiently! Wait for a current SPLOST tax to expire and then have another vote to shift that penny into TSPLOST. This new tax reminds me of Obama's 800 billion dollar "shovel-ready" infusion. Scheming bureaucrats will have control of the money and this is frightening. Obama promised transparency, but in matters of money, there's no such thing within the political ring. The public is being duped!

I normally detest common cynicism, but with much consideration, this is simply the way I feel.

nanowerx
1334
Points
nanowerx 07/15/12 - 09:45 am
5
0
Al Gray is right, this is

Al Gray is right, this is just another expansion of Government an spending. Why is this a roadway tax, yet 25% of it goes towards whatever the government wants to do? That literally makes no sense. On top of that, what about the other 3% sales taxes added to GA? Those were supposed to be temporary to, but they keep reinstating them.

Please, CSRA, vote this down. If our government can't even handle the funds they are already given, why must we be taxed in order to give them MORE to mismanage?

znal
6
Points
znal 07/15/12 - 10:05 am
4
0
Does this mean the total sales tax will be 8%?

Is this an additional 1% being added to the 7% we now pay?

Thanks for anyclarification.

Carleton Duvall
6305
Points
Carleton Duvall 07/15/12 - 10:24 am
4
0
ZNAL

8% would seem right

dichotomy
34343
Points
dichotomy 07/15/12 - 11:28 am
5
0
I'm sure you could build a

I'm sure you could build a lot of nice roads if I voluntarily gave you all of my money, but I am not willing to do that. Neither am I willing to give you ANOTHER 1% of my money to do things that we are already taxed heavily as dedicated taxes for this purpose. This is an augmentation tax. You want us to augment the dedicated taxes we already pay you that you have wasted and mismanaged and distributed unfarily to one area of the state.

We demand a fair and equitable distribution of the taxes we already pay you for road building and maintenance. We demand that you more closely manage the bidding and construction process and quit passing out $5 million dollar contracts to do $250,000 dollars worth of work to your politically connected or bribe paying friends.

We are tired of seeing 10 people stand around watching 1 illegal alien doing all of the work. If the contractors can afford that much inefficiency then something is wrong with the bidding and contract award process.

My guess is that if you put a panel of concerned taxpayers in charge of the bidding and contract award process we would have all of the road projects funded and have a surplus.

TSPLOST is just another money grab by a govenment that has failed to do it's job. You have eaten our cake and now want us to buy more icing.

We've been suckered by the original SPLOST and suckered for the school SPLOST and now you figure we are just suckers for anything with SPLOST attached to it. The old "it's just a penny" is getting very old and the pennies have added up. I don't see "just a penny" in these splost. I see that every xSPLOST is and additional $300 on my next car. This latest attempted robbery would put us up to about an extra $1000 SPLOST dollars on a car in addition to the $1200 or so dollars for the regular state sales tax. Those "pennies" are adding up to 2 or 3 thousand dollars at one whack on some items in addition to more taxes on everything else that we buy. But they are particularly obnoxious on big ticket items such as automobiles and appliances.

Vote NO on TSPLOST and every other new tax our gluttonous politicians try to put on us. It's time to put government on a the same diet they have forced on us in the past 4 years. It's time for government to start funding the basics, like road building, by cutting spending on useless and wasteful programs and agencies instead of by coming back to the pig trough for more slop. If our politicians can't do that then they need to step down and get out of the way and we will find someone that can. NO MORE TAXES, especially SALES TAXES, unless they want to do away with all other taxes and fund everything with sales taxes.

Remember folks, this is a 10 year tax....which means that is a "forever tax". You've got a federal income tax increase coming and you have got the Obamacare taxes (plural, multiple) coming. "just a penny" AIN'T just a penny anymore. We are talking serious dollars right around the corner. Vote NO on TSPLOST this month and vote NO on TSPLOST again in 2 years when they try to sneak up on you again.

Carleton Duvall
6305
Points
Carleton Duvall 07/15/12 - 12:58 pm
5
0
dichotomy

I like what you just said. I will now repeat it "Vote no" LOL

Little Lamb
46891
Points
Little Lamb 07/15/12 - 01:41 pm
5
0
Additional Tax

Yes, znal, this referendum is a ballot question of whether to impose an additional tax. It would make Richmond and Columbia's total sales tax bite 8% (and most if not all of the other counties in the region). And we'll still have to pay state income tax, state property tax, county property tax, county ad valorem tax, state per-gallon gasoline tax, county garbage collection tax, county school tax, and dozens upon dozens of other taxes. Time to take a stand and vote No!

cheapster505
566
Points
cheapster505 07/15/12 - 02:05 pm
5
0
tax

it never adds up to projections so here we go again a penny here anew penny there so 1 penny for roads ? than 1 penny for schools
than 1 penny for police 1 penny for fire 1 penny for city 1 penny for county soon your up to 10 cents per dollar If this is going to bring in BILLIONS in 10 years? the schools will jump at it also education improvement tax only 1 penny per so nothing seems what it is in 10 years the cost of transport will be higher than the tax collected and poormouths will be back and as all gov't the money is BORROWED to be paid back with INTREST the roads NOW but the monies will not arrive until years later so the roads improvements are BORROWED now paid later intresr will make that "PE#NNY" more expencive down the road 2/3/4/5 by the time 10 years rolls around the sad news will come

cheapster505
566
Points
cheapster505 07/15/12 - 02:03 pm
5
0
so who?

so who gets the GAStax money? and if they raise the gax tax will they refund the PENNEY ? because you know that is about to come down the pike after this is passed and why not Penny tax Gas o line so those that use pay buying the 9/10 at gas stations hit them for the1/10 cent even at the pump

wildman
1157
Points
wildman 07/16/12 - 04:47 am
3
0
Taxes

NO more taxes!! How hard can this be, just say NO to the people that want to take your money. The folks putting the sign up work for a company that will benefit from of the new tax, can't believe they would want you to vote yes. NO, NO, NO!

wildman
1157
Points
wildman 07/16/12 - 04:47 am
3
0
Taxes

NO more taxes!! How hard can this be, just say NO to the people that want to take your money. The folks putting the sign up work for a company that will benefit from of the new tax, can't believe they would want you to vote yes. NO, NO, NO!

my.voice
4914
Points
my.voice 07/16/12 - 07:55 am
2
0
I agree with what Little Lamb

I agree with what Little Lamb said. Please understand the vote on this during the summer is on purpose. They are counting on a low voter turnout to force a yes vote. And GDOT would love this so they can spend everything thing they have in Atlanta.

Voters need to rally in opposition, otherwise, your taxes just went up AGAIN.

Little Lamb
46891
Points
Little Lamb 07/16/12 - 08:39 am
2
0
Good Point

I had never thought of that, my.voice, but you are right. If the T-SPLOST passes, then the DOT will say that the new tax is for road building in the hinterlands, and they will be free to use the gasoline taxes for Atlanta only. Another reason to vote NO!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/16/12 - 03:46 pm
1
1
Now my advice for those who

Now my advice for those who die,
Declare the pennies on your eyes.
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman,
And you're working for no one but me.

10 years is too long. I can't vote for it in it's current form. Break it up into 3 seperate funds/tax and I would be quicker to get on board if I know any mistakes will only last 3.3 years.

Oh yeah, and won't we have flying cars by then anyway?

Gary Ross
3346
Points
Gary Ross 07/19/12 - 01:43 pm
1
0
Some advice from Atlanta

The Ga. 400 extension was paid for by charging a toll to use it. The 10 years has been up for quite awhile now, and they are still charging a toll for using the road. It did not go away as promised. In addition to that, we have toll lanes going in on all the major interstates around the big city. It's a traffic nightmare, not to mention paying extra to use a lane that has already been paid for by our taxes. Do we want to pay tolls and SPLOST too? Vote NO, and hit the "emphisis" button if they have one. Send a message back to the GDOT that they need to be more conservative with their funds like we citizen families had to do during the last few years of this depression (oops, I mean recession).

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