A quote straight out of the Statewide Strategic Transportation Plan 2010-2030, page 6.
“People mobility in rest of state.
People mobility in rural areas and medium-sized cities is well supported by the current network.”
What this means is there will be little or no funds available from the 75 percent for smaller counties in the state until late in the 10-year cycle, if there are any funds left at all, because “rural areas and medium-sized cities are well supported by the current network.”
Also, medium size projects (2016-2019) to large projects (2020-2022) are scheduled to begin toward the end of the 10-year cycle. Smaller projects are scheduled for 2013-2015. To be fair, some large projects will start earlier, but the vast majority are slated to begin toward the end of the 10-year tax.
Smaller county projects throughout the region to begin with, then cycling up to larger projects later in the 10-year cycle. Folks, this means there is another 10-year tax in the works beginning 2023 to finish projects started 2020. This sounds to me like a permanent tax by proxy. The plan itself says 2010-2030.
So let’s look at some of those what I call small projects. Intersection improvements, hangar doors at a small airport, rehabilitate air carrier and general aviation aprons, sidewalks, etc., and yet airport fuels are exempt from the tax. Taxpayers are tired of funding special interests.
So this Transportation SPLOST is setup for the benefit of Metro areas with a large part of the funds coming from smaller counties. For example, in my Region 2, we have two counties out of 13 that make up 57 percent of the Region-wide population. They also make up about 56 percent of a 1 percent sales tax. They will also receive the bulk of the projects and along with two other counties will receive more than 65 percent of the projects done with the 75 percent due back to the regions.
This is a good deal for the two counties with 57 percent of the population, and their vote carries which way the region will vote, positively or negatively. It’s not a good deal for the other 11 counties as we will be the ones who subsidize the other projects.
The counties receiving most of the 75 percent of the tax proceeds adjoin major metro areas in their respective regions.
Again, “People mobility in rural areas and medium-sized cities is well supported by the current network.” Smaller and out of the way counties get very little for such a huge burden placed on their citizens by a 1 percent T-SPLOST tax.
Counties jeopardize their 100 percent SPLOST for a percentage from a T-SPLOST. The taxpayers are tired of taxes, particularly in this economy, and if there is a backlash against taxes the T-SPLOST will go first because the county voters control it, not the region voters.
If that backlash occurs, the voters may decide more than one of the optional taxes may need to be stopped.
This can the state has kicked down to the regions is a mess of porridge; the regions need to kick it back to the state. The old crutch “it’s only a penny” won’t wash anymore.
Vote “no” to T-SPLOST in July.
Mike Sims is a resident of Blairsville.