WaysSouth Voices Newsletter Summer 2011
The 2011 Georgia Legislature, facing a large deficit in potential transportation funding, has chosen to use the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to help get needed additional funding for local transportation projects, roads, bridges and rail. The complicated procedure is described below.
The SPLOST procedure divides the state into 12 planning groups (regions), which have two members (County commissioner, City mayor, etc.) from each county. The counties were directed to prepare a list of suggested transportation projects by 30 March of this year. Currently, these lists are being reviewed by a subset of the planning team members and senior GDOT personnel with the objective of prioritizing the projects for each planning region.
The lists will be presented to the voters of each planning region along with a request that voters approve the adoption of a 1% additional sales tax to last for 10 years with the possibility of renewal by another vote of the electorate. The vote will be taken in the presidential primary in 2012. If the majority of voters in a region approve the tax it will be levied on all the counties in the region. Twenty five percent of the revenues collected in a given county will be returned to it but the larger share will go to the region as prioritized. Regions that reject the tax will face a penalty of increasing the proposed 10% sharing cost for transportation projects in the counties within the region to 30%. Regions failing to approve the tax will have to wait 24 months before bringing it to the voters again.
The future for the SPLOST idea is not clear. There are questions about the fairness of the prioritization process, the dominance of larger counties over smaller ones, and, of course affordability and the impact of added taxes. WaysSouth encourages our readers to examine carefully the proposals for your respective region.