I want to learn more about the transportation special-purpose local option sales tax before I vote on it in July. At this point I do not plan to vote for a tax increase to fund transportation projects that I am already paying for with my gas tax.
I have spoken to TSPLOST supporters and asked several questions. So far, I have not heard any logical reason to vote to support a sales tax increase. The following are my questions that need to be answered before I can support a new tax that is redundant.
• Have you ever heard of a tax going away? Once voters pass an additional 1-cent sales tax (TSPLOST), we all know it will somehow become a permanent tax. The supporters of TSPLOST say it’s a great way to raise funds because the tourists will help pay toward our transportation projects. The fact is, I will be paying higher tax every time I purchase anything, and I am not a tourist – I live here.
• I have been told by TSPLOST supporters that all of the projects included in the regional TSPLOST projects list already were included on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s long-term projects list. If the DOT had programmed these projects for the future, but they are now funded with a new TSPLOST tax, what will happen to fuel taxes collected that the DOT controls? I am left to assume it will only add to the inefficiency and wasteful spending of taxpayers’ funds for more political projects. Local elected representatives tell me this is a new idea that nobody has discussed with them.
• Given the fractured nature of the regional TSPLOST program, how will Georgia make progress on inter-regional transit projects such as commuter and intercity rail? How will Atlanta operate and maintain the new transit that will be built when Atlanta’s current funding regulations are such that it cannot fund the existing MARTA system at an acceptable level?
While we do not have locally the population density in Augusta to support light rail, we should at least connect Fort Gordon and Augusta with public bus service. That connecting route currently does not exist.
• Why should we pass a new transportation tax when so much of the current gas tax we pay goes directly into the Georgia General Fund to fund political interests and not transportation needs? Tax issues in Georgia are a mess, and a new sales tax will only make this bad situation worse.
I am still listening and open to learn how this new tax could possibly, in some way, benefit the public.