Some Facts About T-SPLOST
The campaign boards are up around town and are asking voters to give a penny for what some are saying are greater transportation services.
"We're funding projects that are going to make Macon and Middle Georgia, going to make every county in our total region expand jobs, bring more businesses to town bring more jobs to town," Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Leonard Bevill said.
T-SPLOST or the Transportation Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax is one of the referendums on the ballot the people of Georgia will vote on Tuesday. It will add 1 cent to the sales tax of purchases including food and raise an estimated $750 million dollars to be used on transportation related issues in different regions who vote for it. The counties in the state are divided into 12 regions. The bill will be voted on statewide but the decision of whether or not to pass it in a region is up to the people. Middle Georgia is region six and is made up of eleven counties stretching from Putnam County to Pulaski County which includes Baldwin, Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach, Twiggs and Wilkinson counties. Even though the counties are involved, T-SPLOST is a simple majority vote.
"Based off on how many people go and vote tomorrow, or who they've already voted for in early voting. It's a 50 percent plus one vote," Bevill said.
A regional commission including the eleven mayors and county commissioners met to decide which projects the region will want to have funded by T-SPLOST if it passes in the primary election. Bevill said the commission decided on a list of projects that includes the widening roads and making Interstate 16 and 75 safer for drivers. T-SPLOST is a 10 year plan that will affect the region that votes it into place.
It is estimated to bring in about $750-million in a period of 10 years and about 25 percent of it will go to the counties. The amount of money each one receives is based on road mileage and population. Bevill said Macon-Bibb County alone is estimated to receive $4 million each year which can be used for transportation related issues. If passed in a region, a citizen’s review panel will monitor the money and some additional revenue will also be contributed.
"We have some matching funds from the federal government which will now boost that up to $1.2 billion worth of investment here in our community and create most importantly in today's economic times, over 26000 jobs," Bevill said.
These jobs will come from business possibly setting up distributing centers in Middle Georgia. However, some opposing T-SPLOST said they are uncertain about who will be contracted to do the road jobs. Current chairman of Citizens Against T-SPLOST, Ned Sanders, said there may be bids for the jobs and contractors out of state could possibly receive it. This would take the money out of Middle Georgia. Also, a penny tax is difficult on many people during these economic times especially when the tax will be on everything but gas. He also mentioned that T-SPLOST can cause fragmentation all around the state, especially if certain regions pass it and others decide not to have it.
However, Bevill said T-SPLOST is necessary to create safer roads and bring business into the region despite the tax increase.
"While it does add a tax, the bottom line we have transportation projects we have to pay for in our community, if we want these done in an efficient time matter," he said.
Bevill said Georgia is the third fastest growing state but is ranked 49 on transportation spending. If a region does not pass T-SPLOST, it will be up for vote again in two years.