They owe it to themselves to do their homework before voting July 31. They especially need to know how to separate fact from fiction. For example, consider these statements, which are factual:
- Every penny that is raised in Chatham County and the coastal region through TSPLOST (an estimated $1.6 billion raised over 10 years) will be spent on local projets with local
- No money raised in this 10-county region — or any region in Georgia, for that matter — can be spent on any project in any other region.
- Of the total revenue raised in this region, 75 percent will go back toward the regional projects list. The remaining 25 percent will go back to this area’s cities and counties to use for local transportation projects.
- A local citizen’s accountability committee, consisting of non-elected people, will be appointed to help ensure that projects are completed on time and on budget.
- At 7.5 cents per gallon, Georgia’s gas tax is one of the lowest in the nation. The amount of money raised through this tax, which helps pay for transportation improvements, has declined over the years as cars have become more fuel-efficient. Thus there’s a need for a new revenue stream. (Georgia’s gas tax would have to increase by 27 percent to raise the same amount of revenue as TSPLOST.)
Now make note of the falsehoods:
- A big chunk of the TSPLOST funds from this area will be funnelled to metro Atlanta and spent on projects there. Not true. Can’t happen under provisions of the tax if it’s passed.
- The state Department of Transportation will spend this extra revenue on projects that it wants, not people who live in this region. Again, not true. They can’t do it.
- The DOT will leave Georgia’s cities and counties in the cold. DOT doesn’t get to decide how/where to spend the money.
- State bureaucrats in Atlanta won’t report how the money is spent. Local officials will be in charge.
- A slight bump up in the gas tax will generate all the money that’s needed. It would actually require a painfully large increase.
Here are two last facts. If
TSPLOST fails in this region, there’s no Plan B. But if voters approve it, it means more jobs (at least 28,000, which is the number of jobs that the Federal Highway Administration says $1 billion spent on transportation projects will create).