, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Voters throughout the state of Georgia last week decided if they want to tax themselves to pay for transportation improvements. Ballots in two regions in the state had different outcomes on the issue.
By a 53-47 percent margin, South Georgia voters approved a question to collect a 1 percent transportation special purpose local option sales tax, or T-SPLOST, as it is referred to locally, over 10 years. Tax collection is scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.
The question was on 18 area ballots with 14 counties voting in favor of the proposal and four counties rejecting the proposal.
Counties that voted in opposition to the tax cannot opt out of a region’s tax.
Approval in South Georgia authorizes funds to go to the affected counties starting Nov. 1.
There are 150 projects identified to benefit from the additional $500 million in tax revenue.
A regional sales tax was also included on ballots in Central Georgia. The 11-county area voted 51 percent to 49 percent in opposition of the 1 percent tax. Five counties voted in favor while voters in six counties said “no.”
The tax was estimated to raise $640 million over the next decade for 55 specific projects. One quarter of the revenue would have been divided up among the counties, with local elected officials making the final decision about how to spend the money for transportation.
As a result of the question’s defeat, the individual counties will not get any additional funding. Instead, they are responsible for coming up with their own funding mechanism to get needed work done.
The Middle Georgia Regional Commission has acknowledged there is no alternative funding method for the projects.
The defeat marks the second time in six years voters in the region rejected the tax. The T-SPLOST funding mechanism has been in place in Georgia since 2010.
Elsewhere, voters in Dade County rejected the sales tax question. Among the projects touted to benefit from the proposed tax increase was to build a new exit on Interstate 59.
Advocates said the new exit would alleviate about 90 percent of large truck traffic accessing the city of Trenton’s town square.
The question’s defeat marks the second time in six months that voters in the county rejected the tax increase.
The final tally this month was 58 percent in opposition – up from 55 percent against in November.
Finally, voters in Bulloch County approved the sales tax question with 58 percent approval.
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