I read, with a great deal of concern, Paul Mallon’s comments in the paper May 18 regarding the upcoming vote on the July 31 transportation special-purpose local option sales tax proposal (“TSPLOST isn’t temporary”). The online comments following his letter from the readers at large were even more disturbing because it was clear that these voters were reacting emotionally without reason or understanding the facts.
• The Georgia Department of Transportation, with a consortium of business people across the state, developed the TSPLOST. Both Republicans and Democrats worked to pass it, and it is politically agenda-neutral.
• While true that the DOT still collects the gas tax on every gallon, that money services debt on existing roads. With fewer miles being driven, and vehicle fuel economy improving, there is not sufficient money to build new roads and repair existing roads.
• The TSPLOST expires in 10 years, unless extended by vote of the citizens in the respective districts.
• Each region will vote on the plan. If every other region approves it except for ours, then they will move forward, and we will fall further behind. The opposite also would be true. Each region determines its own fate. The money raised from the tax stays in the region that raised it. By law, our sales tax revenues will build our projects, not those in Atlanta or anywhere else.
• The more populous counties get more of the region’s revenues, but they raise a higher percentage of the total. The project list is weighted accordingly, but all benefit.
• The tax is not “just a penny.” It is 1 percent. It is a tax increase, but one fairly based on consumption.
• The DOT has declared that if this law doesn’t pass, there is no “Plan B.” That means that the roads we have now will deteriorate and congestion will increase, resulting in deaths and injuries. By defeating the proposal ,we also cheat ourselves out of the economic impact the construction jobs would generate.
• The next plan may not afford the local control that this one does. It is clear though that the governor, the legislature and the DOT do not have the will for imposing more taxes themselves. So if TSPLOST fails, not much will change in the near future.
No one likes paying taxes. But we will pay, one way or the other. In the TSPLOST, we have an opportunity to do something by ourselves, for ourselves.
This plan has been well-considered, and it puts the decision squarely in the hands of the individual voter. We are, for once, in control of our own destinies.
I can see why Mr. Mallon and those who agree with him are distrustful of a plan like this. The term “SPLOST” has been worn out by governments trying to fund normal operations on the backs of tired taxpayers, while telling them “it’s just a penny.” I get it.
But unfortunate as the name is, this truly is an opportunity for all citizens in this area. The projected local revenues from this tax are $841 million. If passed, the projects will begin next year.
The interested voter can find more information and view the projects list at www.connectgeorgia2012.com.