Votes to be taken on T-SPLOST

Published 8:51 am Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Last Wednesday night, Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds answered citizens’ questions about a proposed, additional 1-cent sales tax that would be used to help fund transportation projects in Southwest Georgia.

A group of about 20 people, including several Georgia Department of Transportation officials, met in the Callahan room of the Firehouse Center to discuss the proposed tax, known as T-SPLOST.

Reynolds is on the executive committee of the Southwest Georgia Regional Roundtable, which will meet Thursday, Sept. 29, to take a final vote on the proposed list of projects which would be undertaken if the T-SPLOST is passed by voters in the region.

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The meeting will be held at 5 p.m. at the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission Offices at 30 W. Broad Street in Camilla, Ga. The meeting is open to the public.

Voters in 12 regions across the state will weigh in on a proposed transportation tax in a primary election to be tentatively held in July 2012; the state legislature, which passed the law setting up the T-SPLOST referendum, has debated whether to move the vote to November 2012.

The proposed tax would not necessarily be state-wide; one region could vote for it and another could vote against it. No cities or counties would be permitted to be exempt from the tax if it is approved in their region. If approved, the tax would have to be renewed after 10 years.

The region Decatur County is a part of also includes the counties of Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Early, Grady, Miller, Lee, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas and Worth.

How TSPLOST would work

If the 1-cent regional tax, known as T-SPLOST, is approved, 75 percent of proceeds will be used to fund projects on a final list approved by a regional roundtable. The roundtable’s members are comprised of state representatives and local elected officials defined by the Transportation Investment Act.

Twenty-five percent of the tax’s proceeds would be given back to local governments, to be used on whatever transportation-related projects they choose, without any prior approval from Georgia DOT.

Depending on how the vote transpires, the manner in which money for local road projects, which are not on the regional list, could be affected, DOT officials who attended the meeting said.

Currently, when a local road project is proposed that would use state money, the Georgia DOT contracts with a local government to do the work, with the two parties splitting the cost equally at 50 percent.

If the roundtable fails to pass the project list to be placed on the ballot, the 50 percent local match would remain the same. If the roundtable passes the project list but voters in the region vote against T-SPLOST, the project formula would be 75 percent state money, 25 percent local match. If the roundtable passes the project list and voters approve T-SPLOST, the project formula would be 90 percent state money, 10 percent local money.

Related Article: Voters to have say on T-SPLOST