The TSPLOST upon which voters will decide Tuesday is unlike any other revenue generating proposal ever considered for Georgia, in that it would apply taxes on a regional basis rather than statewide or by county, with money raised by the tax used to address infrastructure concerns in a specific region.
Come Wednesday, it is very possible some regions of the state will have approved the sales tax while others have turned it down.
We hope the region in which Forsyth County is located is one of those that has approved TSPLOST.
There is no questioning the need. Traffic threatens to choke much of Georgia, but counties like Forsyth on the edges of metro Atlanta are particularly susceptible to problems associated with an outdated transportation infrastructure.
Thankfully, Forsyth County is not lumped into the metro region for TSPLOST, but rather with 12 other North Georgia counties. The project lists compiled by representatives from those counties make sense and represent transportation improvements that are badly needed throughout the region, but none moreso than the proposals for addressing needs in Forsyth.
Among many other projects, the Forsyth lists includes desperately needed widening of Ga. 400, Ga. 20, Ga. 9, Ga. 369, Bethelview Road, McGinnis Ferry Road and Brookwood Road, all heavily travelled transportation corridors.
The sales tax is the best way to go. We have said this many times on other sales tax related issues. With the sales tax as a financing mechanism, everybody pays. Not just property owners. Not just consumers of gasoline. Everybody. And that’s appropriate. Like education, transportation is an issue that affects everybody in their daily lives, and all should share the financing burden.
If approved by voters in the region, the TSPLOST would be collected for 10 years, or until $1.25 billion is generated, whichever comes first. Critics have said the tax will not end, but rather will continue on past the set time frame. But that can only happen if we, the voters, make it happen. The beauty of the special purpose sales tax program is that we get to decide, every time.
Improved transportation betters the local economy. Imagine for a moment you are the CEO of a major company looking to relocate. Are you going to move your company to an area where roads already are jammed and your potential employees face the very real possibility of impossible commutes? Probably not. Investing in the region’s future by voting to improve transportation is like putting fuel in the economic engine, and conversely refusing to do so is a sure way to watch that engine sputter and die.
The alternatives. Much has been made of the lack of a “plan B” that has been bemoaned by many in state government. It isn’t true that there is no plan B, it’s just that the alternative plan is a bad one. Without passage of TSPLOST, the region will again be dependent on the state for major road funding, and the state will continue to be dependent on motor fuel taxes as primary source of funding, until it comes it with some other tax to apply.
What we will have is what we have had. And it hasn’t worked.
The TSPLOST plan isn’t perfect, and critics have raised legitimate and valid concerns. That said, when you look at the size of investment that has to be made to bring transportation infrastructure to the level it needs to be to handle current demand and future growth, and you look at the options for making those improvements, TSPLOST is the best available choice.
TSPLOST is a chance to change the mindset for the future. We encourage you to vote “yes.”