Some officials in Middle Georgia are interested in a new regional sales tax to support transportation projects.
Though the tax proposal already has been several years in the making, voters won’t consider a measure before November 2012, and local officials haven’t begun to figure out how to agree on a set of projects or even begin discussing them.
The 1-percent sales tax vote would be based on a regional initiative from the 11 counties in the Middle Georgia Regional Commission’s area. Ralph Nix, executive director of development commission, which helps local communities, said governments want more money for transportation.
“I don’t know of any of the Middle Georgia people that we work with that don’t think we need additional resources,” Nix said.
It’s still unclear how those projects would be developed. Nix said his agency would be glad to help form a “regional roundtable” of local county commission leaders and mayors who would try to agree on a list of projects. The sales tax districts are identical to the state’s regional commission districts, but the regional commissions don’t have an explicit role in coordinating the projects.
The regional transportation special purpose local option sales tax was created under House Bill 277, which was signed June 2 by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Bibb County Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson said some regional projects could include a proposed connector between Bibb County’s Sardis Church Road extension and Sgoda Road in Twiggs County. That could better connect Interstate 75 with Interstate 16, bridging wetlands in American Indian traditional cultural property between Macon and Robins Air Force Base.
Nix said any program has to be coordinated with local transportation planning agencies, including Macon Area Transportation Study, as well as the state transportation planner. They may also get coordinated with local air quality programs and state transportation plans.
“It’s not a simple process at this stage,” he said.
Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said it may be difficult to coordinate projects across the area.
“There are some communities that are not like us at all,” Hart said.
Hart and Crawford County Manager Pat Kelly said they want to learn more about the new law.
The counties in the T-SPLOST region include Baldwin, Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach, Pulaski, Putnam, Twiggs and Wilkinson.
Although sales taxes in Georgia counties are capped at 7 percent, a regional SPLOST tax would not fall under that limitation.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.